Smith leads nation in triple doubles


Bryan Bund

Junior Taylor Smith tips the ball over the net in the Panthers’ 3-0 win over Alabama A&M Sept. 7 in Lantz Arena. Smith leads the NCAA in triple doubles.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Junior Taylor Smith can do it all and has done it all for the Eastern volleyball team, not only this year, but in her entire career.

This year; however, has her leading the NCAA in triple doubles through eight weeks of the season.

She is among 25 players in the NCAA that have recorded a triple double, but she leads everyone with five. Mason Rooney of Davidson is the closest with four. Seventeen of the 25 have only one triple double this season.

She said the recognition is nice to have and makes her want to keep working hard to get the OVC title for her and the team.

“If I’m doing my job as best as I can, I just hope it rubs off and becomes contagious for everyone to want to make hustle plays and go above and beyond for one another,” Smith said.

Smith earns her triple doubles by recording at least 10 assists, 10 digs and 10 kills. She had one in back-to-back weekends with her most recent coming Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.

She opened the season with a triple double in each of the first three tournaments as well.

Smith is currently third on the team in kills, first it assists and second in digs.

Her top match for assists this season while recording a triple double was 31 against Eastern Kentucky Saturday. Her season-high for digs in a triple double was against Tennessee-Martin Oct. 7. She recorded 13 kills twice en route to a triple double against Bradley Aug. 26 and Tennessee-Martin Oct. 7.

“It all depends on the game,” Smith said. “Some of the contributors to a triple double is my shot selection, how many sets we play, how often I get set and how well the other team is playing defense. It’s also nice when I can get a couple kills from a set dump throughout the match.”

Since she was a freshman, she has been an impact all over the court.

She finished her freshman season fifth in kills, second in assists and second in digs. She spent her freshman season playing alongside five strong seniors at each spot.

In 2016, her sophomore season, Smith was third in kills, second in assists and third in digs. While she has not always been a statistical leader for Eastern in one particular category, she has to focus on three different jobs every time the ball comes over the net to the Panthers, then to get the ball back over the net.

Eastern and Smith do not match up to some of the other statistical leaders in the NCAA, with some schools and individual leaders having near three times the per set averages.

The NCAA leader for assists is Ivone Martinez of Florida Atlantic, who averages 13 assists per set. Smith averages five. But Smith’s versatility on the court is what helps them win and makes her a vital asset to the team.

The Panthers are 10-10 overall and 4-4 in the conference, putting them in seventh place in the OVC. Jacksonville State is 4-4 and play at Eastern Saturday.

Austin Peay is atop the conference with a 7-1 record and Tennessee Tech is in last with a flipped 1-7 record. The Golden Eagles play Eastern Friday night in Lantz Arena.

Sean Hastings can be reached at

581-2812 or [email protected]