Volleyball team with another tough road test

Tom O'Connor, Volleyball Reporter

At 6-6 on the season, the Panthers must secure, or otherwise surrender, admittance to postseason play.

Only the top eight teams in the standings obtain a ticket to the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in two weeks and the Eastern volleyball team, currently seventh amongst all opponents, will face three playoff hopefuls in a matter of two weeks.

The Panther volleyball team’s aspirations might very well be contingent upon a matchup against Belmont.

A year has passed since the two teams clashed against one another, a match in which the Panthers lost 3-1.

With the Panthers on the precipice of tournament play, the team must be on the same page. Wolinski rhapsodized over the Eastern volleyball team’s cohesion, acknowledging the continuity she has witnessed throughout the season, and highlighting her players’ skill at communicating.

“It’s not just the same people over and over again,” Wolinski said. “There are others, whether it is on the court or on the bench that are all helping to maintain that energy and that constant communication that we need to be successful.”

After 25 games, eight of them on the road, fatigue certainly has a means of imbedding itself into the team’s psyche, especially since the Panthers play the remaining three matches on the road.

“It is that time of the year where you are worried about the number of jumps a lot of people are taking. You want to manage that fatigue factor,” Wolinski said.

Wolinski also said that the Bruins tend to play an up tempo style of play and typically run a 5-1 system.

The Bruins can set off a flurry behind Arianna Person who, for the purposes of preparing for Saturday’s match, will be on the Eastern volleyball team’s radar. She has been the force behind the Bruins’ offensive prowess, scoring enough points to be third in the OVC.

The Bruins bear dominance on the other end as well. As a defensive juggernaut, the Bruins hold a .176 opponent hitting percentage, the paradigm of defensive persistence.

“We have seen them on film as a coaching staff so we will kind of get ready for them a little bit more on Thursday, but they have a great outside hitter,” Wolinski said.

Nevertheless, the Bruins struggle to close out sets down the stretch, as they have a record of 3-4 in matches that extend to a fifth set. The Panthers, by contrast, have not lost in such matches.

Eastern enters Saturday coming off a 3-0 loss to Southern Illinois Edwardsville, while Belmont came up short in four of the last five, losing to Tennessee State on Tuesday.

Tom O’Connor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]