Eastern volleyball team wins first OVC match


Bryan Bund

Maria Brown goes up for a kill against Tennessee State Saturday afternoon at Lantz Arena. Brown finished with nine kills and the Panthers won 3-1.

Kaitlin Cordes, Volleyball Reporter

The Eastern volleyball team snatched its first Ohio Valley Conference match over the weekend, edging Tennessee State 25-15, 25-22, 23-25 and 25-15.

The Panthers advanced to 1-3 in the conference while Tennessee State walks away with its third OVC loss. Eastern played aggressively throughout the four sets, letting just one set barely slip through their fingers.

Eastern implemented a short serve strategy to force Tennessee State’s front row to be the first to play off the serve. Sophomore libero Anne Hughes said the strategy was meant to limit the Tigers’ back row play off of serves.

“Our coaches tell us what zones to serve, and we’ll serve short when we’re trying to make a front row player pass. It’s mainly to take out options for their offense,” Hughes explained.

This plan panned out well for the Panthers as they earned nine service aces. Tennessee State was pushed to nine reception errors as well. A reception error occurs when a team loses a point on a receive attempt.

Eastern perfectly placed almost every kill in each set. Freshman outside hitter Laurel Bailey led the team in kills with 12, followed closely by junior setter Taylor Smith and sophomore outside hitter Katie Sommer with 11 and 10 respectively.

The Panthers totaled 56 kills and limited Tennessee State to just 49 kills. Eastern led in kills in every set except set three when Tennessee notched 17, and the Panthers had 12.

The Panthers made up for the kill deficit with a solid defense. In set three, Eastern earned 12 digs, led by Hughes with five digs. Hughes ended the match with a team-high 21 digs.

The third set saw each team tie in lead changes and ties. Each team posted five ties and three lead changes.

Eastern was able to capitalize on Tennessee State’s errors throughout the match. Eastern even scored on most long volleys in the match.

Senior outside hitter Maria Brown said the volleys often give the team fuel to continue to dominate matches.

“(Volleys) give a lot of momentum because we’re going back and forth with a long rally and both sides are making great defensive plays,” Brown said. “When your side ends a rally with a kill, that gives your side a lot of momentum and kind of shuts down the other side’s confidence and energy.”

Smith recorded yet another double-double on the season. She led her team in assists with 27 and had 11 kills. Bailey was just two digs shy of a double-double as well.

The win brings Eastern’s overall record to 7-9 on the year. Next up for the Panthers is a home matchup against Southeast Missouri Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern will have a four-day break between games before hosting Southeast Missouri.

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