Volleyball team goes 2-2 in Panther Invite


Jordan Boyer

Eastern junior Katie Sommer returns a ball in the Panthers’ 3-1 win over Iona Sunday at Lantz Arena. Sommer had three spikes and five kills in the match.

Tom O'Connor, Volleyball Reporter

The Eastern volleyball team finished out the Panther Invitational in third place, with a 2-2 record this past weekend, ousting Iona (3-1) and St. Francis (3-0), while falling to Fresno State (3-1) and Valparaiso (3-1).

Sophomore Laurel Bailey’s kill and ensuing service ace mobilized an 8-0 scoring run for the Panthers to close out set four, boosting her team to a 3-1 win over Iona on Sunday.

Two of Bailey’s three aces for the game manifested over the course of Eastern’s point surge in the fourth, which empowered her to assemble seven successive serves.

“If she is at the net or at the service line, I do not want face her,” Allen said. “I hope we get more Laurel Bailey’s like we saw tonight.”

Juniors Lexi May and Maggie Runge had 10 blocks between them, holding Fresno State to a .083 hitting percentage.

The Panthers rattled off three straight wins, notwithstanding a loss in the first set, where Eastern lost by a nine-point margin. 

“I believe it was our player’s determination that we were not going to let this happen in our house again,” Allen said. “We knew that if we could change our game and have a mental change, we were going to come back and win that match.”

However, unlike its successes on Sunday, Eastern was unable to resurrect itself from an eight point Valparaiso edge in set three, before ultimately losing the game 3-1.

With Valparaiso up 22-14, a pair of Eastern kills from Taylor Smith and Laurel Bailey allowed Eastern to abate its deficit to five, and, despite slowing its attack, the Crusaders closed the following set 6-0. 

Allison Ketcham, a Valparaiso senior and outside hitter, had a match high 17 kills, complementing setter Brittany Anderson’s 49 assists in the match. 

In the end, though, she could not quite come up with the dig on a Fresno State attack, one authored by sophomore Montez Uigaese, as the Panthers fell to the Bulldogs 3-1 on the back end of its Friday double header. 

Following three unanswered Fresno State points, Junior Brianna Jager flipped it to Runge for the kill, capping off a 3-0 Eastern run and settling the score at 16-13.

Neither team could uphold separation in set four. 

Eastern swept Saint Francis in the first match by scores of 25-21, 25-21 and 25-23, winning the opening game of the season for the first time since 2015.

Off a Saint Francis counterattack, Junior Katie Sommer greeted the ball at the net and swatted it down for the block, which would put the Panthers up for the remainder of the third set, some two minutes after the Red Flash mounted a two-point lead. 

A steady consumption of kills in the third set allowed Eastern to reclaim the lead.

The Panthers corralled four straight points to close out the match, including Laurel Bailey’s assortment of three kills. Bailey rounded out the Panther’s offense, accumulating a game high 13 kills and two aces, while Lexi May, meanwhile, headlined the defense with seven blocks. 

Out of a network of five teams, Fresno State finished the tournament undefeated, while, at the other end of the continuum, Saint Francis could not produce a single win.

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