Allen envisions winning program for Eastern volleyball team


Sean Hastings

New Eastern volleyball coach Julie Allen made her first appearence at the Eastern men’s basektball game on Thursday night. Allen was previously a volunteer assistant coach at Wichita State for two seasons.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Newly hired Eastern volleyball coach Julie Allen was not trying to fast track her way to a head coaching job, but now here she is at Eastern ready to get the Panthers to the “next level.”

Allen’s hiring was announced by the Eastern athletic department on Wednesday.

She spent the last two seasons at Wichita State as a volunteer assistant coach helping the shockers to a 29-win season.

Allen began her coaching career in 2004 and now realized that it was her time to start applying.

Eighteen-year head coach Chris Lamb at Wichita State used Allen’s advice and strategies in games, and that was when she knew it was time to take over her program, she said.

Allen said Lamb told her that being tasked with the responsibility of helping out the offense, not only helped the Shockers win games, but helped her get to the next level.

She says her first stop as a head coach at Eastern is a good gig.

“They are really big on academics and they want the students to exceed not only in the classroom, but athletically as well and that’s what I find important,” Allen said. “Coming in as a new coach I want to make sure I fit into what their vision is and they fit in mine. I’m very educational driven.”

The Panthers made the Ohio Valley Conference two of the last three seasons. Eastern ‘s best finish in the OVC Tournament was this past season where the lost in the second round to Murray State.

With the success Eastern has been able to find the past three seasons, Allen does not see her coming in to rebuild the program, but restructure it.

“They want to win the OVC, they don’t just want to make it (to the tournament),” Allen said. “They want to get further. What I’ve talked about is ‘you make that OVC, you win that tournament.”

Austin Peay dominated the OVC with a 14-2 OVC record to accompany its 30-6 overall record and ended it with an OVC Title. The Panthers lost 3-1 and 3-0 to the Governors in their two meetings in 2017.

Murray State is the other team in the OVC that is year-in-and-year-out a championship contender. The Racers won the championship three straight years in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

With those two teams running the OVC the past, Allen is confident that Eastern can get to their level and make a bigger push in the tournament.

“When you look at it statistically, we are very close to the top ranked teams: Murray State and Austin Peay,” Allen said. “That’s what’s exciting. There are not many changes. It’s not a huge gap. There’s little minute details that you need to change in there, but I feel like we can make a bigger jump.”

Helping make that jump will be Taylor Smith, who will be a senior in 2018, and she is excited to have Allen take over Eastern’s volleyball program.

“From my first impression I think she is going to be a good fit here for EIU’s volleyball program” Smith said. “She is definitely going to make us work hard and push us more than we have ever have been before. I can definitely say I’m excited for what she is going to bring to the program.”

Smith played under former coach Sam Wolinski the past three seasons, but thinks that the transition is going to be smooth with Allen.

Smith saw the success she had at Wichita State and hopes she brings that same winning mentality to Eastern, she said.

“I just hope she can bring a different perspective and give us more knowledge about the game to be successful,” Smith said

Allen said she is a very direct and transparent coach and let the team know their flaws, her flaws, but also why they were able to succeed and win.

The Panthers practice Tuesday for the first time with Allen.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 

581-2812 or [email protected]