Volleyball wins one, loses one OVC match

Kaitlin Cordes, Volleyball Reporter

The Eastern volleyball team defeated No. 1 Eastern Kentucky over the weekend after losing to Morehead State last Friday.

The Panthers wrapped up their weekend play on a high note with a four-set victory over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (25-20, 14-25, 27-25, 25-12). The Colonels were the top team in the Ohio Valley Conference coming into the match.

Junior setter Taylor Smith emerged as a strong team leader for the Panthers, earning her fifth triple-double of the season. Smith earned 10 kills and a team-high 31 assists and she tied with sophomore libero Anne Hughes for the team-high 16 digs.

Eastern led on almost all fronts against the Colonels, walking away with the most kills, aces, blocks and assists. Eastern Kentucky out did the Panthers on digs 73-69.

The Panthers notched more kills despite Eastern Kentucky’s Celina Sanks coming away as the overall kill leader on the day with 14. Seniors Allie Hueston and Maria Brown lead the Panthers with 12 kills apiece.

It was a match of runs that kept Eastern alive. In the first set, the Panthers were boosted by a late 5-0 run led by kills from Smith and freshman outside hitter Laurel Bailey. The Panthers once again went on a run in the fourth set, starting the match by capturing the first four points with kills from Hueston and Bailey.

Eastern Kentucky drops to 5-3 in the conference and is 7-15 overall.

The Panthers’ final match of the weekend was a stark contrast from how they began weekend play. Morehead State delivered a sweep, defeating Eastern 25-23, 25-19, 26-24.

Eastern lead in digs this time around at 43-40 and in kills at 47-46. Notching the most kills between the two teams was Bailey with 16 on the day. Brown and Smith followed closely behind with 10 kills apiece.

The Panthers were unable to execute their usual team blocking. Eastern earned just one block, while Morehead State had nine team blocks. Hughes once again led in digs with 16, and Eastern’s lone block was the combined effort of Brown and junior middle Abby Knight.

Morehead State is now 2-5 in the conference and 11-9 overall. Eastern ended the weekend 4-4 in conference play and 10-10 on the season.

Leading the conference is Austin Peay at 6-1, followed by Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Belmont who are each 6-2. Murray State and Eastern Kentucky are vying for third, and Jacksonville State sits in fourth at 4-3. Eastern and Tennessee-Martin are tied for fourth place. Morehead State, Southeast Missouri and Tennessee State are each in fifth, and Tennessee Tech is sixth at 1-7.

The Panthers will return to Lantz Arena to host Tennessee Tech on Friday. They will then go on their final home stand, taking on the likes of Jacksonville State, Murray State and Austin Peay in the next two weeks.

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