Eastern wins 2 Homecoming matches


Sean Hastings

Allie Hueston (9), Maria Brown (13), Taylor Smith (7), Anne Hughes (12), Madison Cunningham, Laurel Bailey (far right) celebrate a point in the Panthers’ 3-0 win over Tennessee Tech Friday in Lantz Arena. Eastern won two matches this weekend.

Tom O'Connor, Volleyball Reporter

The Eastern volleyball team reunited alumni crowds with a victory Saturday over Jacksonville State.

Lantz Arena teemed with excitement, as junior Abby Knight and outside hitter Taylor Smith blocked a last effort attack, putting the Panthers up for good against Jacksonville State.

The Eastern volleyball team defeated Jacksonville State 3-2 (23-25, 21-25, 27-25, 27-25, 15-11), in come-from-behind fashion Saturday night, after the Panthers commanded a sweep over Tennessee Tech the night before.

With the Panthers down 2-0 against Jacksonville State, Eastern coach Sam Wolinski galvanized the squad, a message that rubbed off on to the entire team.

“I said when we come back in here, we will be the victors and we did,” Wolinski said.

The first set, marked by nine ties and three lead changes between the two teams, gave way to a two-point edge in favor of the Gamecocks. These fluctuations persisted into the second and would define the match as a whole.

At the whistle of set three, Eastern, down two sets to none, rallied behind senior Allie Hueston, who tallied 30 kills and 10 blocks for the match.

As for Jacksonville State, it went south from there, losing three consecutive sets.

Eastern pressured the Gamecocks into a series of untimely mistakes, including, but not limited to, Jennifer Hart’s ungainly set to close out the fifth. Eastern finished with two reception errors, six fewer than Jacksonville State.

Smith polished the win, securing her sixth triple-double of the season.

While game two showcased two contentious teams positioning for the OVC tournament, game one illustrated the Panthers offensive dexterity which, come playoff time, could enable a deep run.

In the first game, Hueston capped off the third set with a decisive kill for the Panthers, beating Tennessee Tech, 25-20, 25-9, 25-22 in a 3-0 sweep.

Wolinski underscored the continuity and production on the offensive end in terms of the team’s sustained success.

“I think our passing game, our serve receive game, has really been on point. Obviously, we had a side out percentage of 100 percent in the second set. That doesn’t happen all the time,” Wolinski said.

As the Panthers carved an advantage over Tennessee Tech, the Eagles clawed back, remaining close in all but one set.

Hueston, along with fellow teammates Laurel Bailey and Taylor Smith, combined for 42.5 points.

Eastern volleyball, as a collective unit, closed the match with 52 kills- the Panthers are third in the Ohio Valley Conference in kills at this juncture of the season.

“We’ve been doing a really good job of being balanced on offense, so again, just a lot of people doing their jobs and doing them well.”


 Tom O’Connor can be reached at 

581-2812 or [email protected]