Volleyball team set for final matches


Sean Hastings

Anne Hughes gets ready to dig the ball in the Panthers’ 3-2 win over Jacksonville State Oct. 21 in Lantz Arena. Eastern is on the road at Southeast Missouri Saturday.

Kaitlin Cordes, Volleyball Reporter

The Eastern volleyball team plays its final two regular season matches this weekend.

The Panthers will compete with Tennessee-Martin for the second time this season Friday night on the Skyhawks’ home court. Eastern pushed Tennessee-Martin to four sets in the two teams’ last meeting, trumping the Skyhawks 3-1.

Since the last match between Eastern and Tennessee-Martin, the Skyhawks have lost six of their last eight matches. Tennessee-Martin lost to teams Eastern has beaten such as Belmont (0-3), Southeast Missouri (1-3), Jacksonville State (2-3) and Eastern Kentucky (1-3).

In their most recent match, the Skyhawks were outed by No. 3 Murray State (20-25, 23-25, 22-25). Tennessee-Martin’s standout libero Jamie Ry was the only Skyhawk to reach double-digit statistics with her 19 digs.

Middles Jemima Idemudia and Justine Walker and outside hitter Hannah Phillips each notched a team-high nine kills on the day to contribute to the Skyhawks’ 44 kills. Idemudia continues to be a leader on the team, as she owns the most kills on the season with 306.

She also has the most blocks with her solo and block assists combining for 104 blocks.

Tennessee-Martin is currently eighth in the conference despite a tied conference record with Southeast Missouri at 5-9. The Skyhawks sit above Southeast Missouri because of their overall record of 11-16.

Tennessee-Martin comes into the match with a 4-2 home-match record. Eastern has won three out of nine away matches.

Saturday’s rematch with Southeast Missouri will most likely be a repeat performance for the Panthers. Much like Tennessee-Martin, Southeast Missouri has lost five of its nine matches since being swept by Eastern last month.

Southeast Missouri recently played No. 1 Austin Peay, only to be swept by the top team in the conference. The Redhawks’ strong point in the match was blocking; Southeast Missouri notched 10 blocks to Austin Peay’s three.

Coming up big on blocks for the Redhawks was middle Nzingha Clarke. Clarke earned half of the team blocks and grabbed five kills of her own on the day.

It was outside hitter Krissa Gearring that led the way in kills for Southeast Missouri. Gearring had a team-high 12 kills and one assist. She has the team’s dominant force in the front row all season as she has accumulated a team-leading 307 kills and 346.5 points.

Southeast Missouri comes into this weekend’s match on a two-match losing streak. The Redhawks have a winning home-match record at 7-3.

Friday’s match at Tennessee-Martin will begin at 7 p.m., and the Panthers will play Southeast Missouri Saturday at 2 p.m.

Eastern will have a five-day rest period before the OVC Tournament on Nov. 16 at Austin Peay.

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