Eastern volleyball team seeking first OVC win


Bryan Bund

Freshman Laurel Bailey goes up for a kill in the Panthers’ 3-0 win over Alabama A&M Sept. 8 in Lantz Arena. Eastern is still looking for its first OVC win.

Kaitlin Cordes, Volleyball Reporter

The Eastern volleyball team is still searching for its first Ohio Valley Conference win of the season and will have a chance to get it Saturday when it hosts Tennessee State.

The Panthers have yet to topple conference competition, dropping matches to returning conference champions Murray State, Austin Peay and Southern Illinois Edwardsville. Tennessee State is 1-2 in the conference, tied for third with Edwardsville.

Tennessee State recently played cross-town rival Belmont for its second Ohio Valley Conference game of the season. Tennessee took the match to three sets, but winning just one (16-25, 18-25, 25-21, 22-25).

Despite losing, the Tigers recorded several season-high statistics. Setter Samantha Beltran had her ninth double-double of the season with 28 assists and 12 digs. Middle Maya Evans notched her career high in blocks with two solo and five assisted. The team earned their season-high blocks at 11.

Middle Rachel Henderson led both teams in kills at 18. Henderson is a junior transfer but has already proven she is a dominating force for the Tigers. She recorded 58 total kills in the teams’ last six matches.

Tennessee State won the last meeting against Eastern. The match was a sweep for the Tigers (8-25, 23-25, 13-25). Senior outside hitter Maria Brown led last season’s efforts against the Tigers with eight kills and one ace. Junior setter Taylor Smith was also an anchor for the Panthers in last season’s matchup. Smith recorded five kills and one block.

Brown is currently the team leader in kills at 158. She is also the team leader in service aces with 16. Another threat on Eastern’s side of the court is freshman outside hitter Laurel Bailey. Bailey has recorded 141 kills this season and 16 blocks.

Smith has truly polished her setter position this season as she is looked to as a team leader. She has earned 118 kills, eight services aces, 322 assists and 158 digs.

Eastern is 3-4 at home for all games and 0-1 in home conference games. Tennesse State comes into the match 0-5 away and is on a one-game losing streak. The Tigers’ overall record is 5-11, and Eastern sits at 6-9. This is the only time the Panthers will face the Tigers, barring a conference championship appearance for either team.

The Panthers host the Tigers Saturday afternoon at Lantz Arena at 2 p.m. Eastern will then go on a five-day break before facing Southeast Missouri at home.

Currently in conference standings, Belmont, Murray State, Austin Peay and Tennessee-Martin are in a four-way tie for first. Jacksonville State, Southeast Missouri and Eastern Kentucky are in the running for second at 1-1 apiece. Tennessee State and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville are tied for third at 1-2 while Morehead State, Tennessee Tech and Eastern are tied for last with no conference wins. 

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]