Eastern volleyball team drops 3 matches at Drake

Tom O'Connor, Volleyball Reporter

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Win or lose, the Panthers’ veteran leadership, namely junior Laurel Bailey and senior Abby Knight, shored up the team’s odds at victory when it came time for a standoff in each late game situation this past weekend in Iowa.

Across the four matches, Bailey rescued the Panthers from a string of scoring draughts while simultaneously setting off scoring runs of her own.

But, despite these triumphs, the Panthers struggled to stay consistent, as Eastern lost 3-0 to Iowa on Sunday and 3-2 to South Dakota State on Saturday, following a 3-0 win over Massachusetts Lowell (25-20, 25-13 and 25-12) and a 3-0 loss to Drake on Friday.

Iowa:

With Eastern up 15-12 in the third set, the Hawkeyes squelched Eastern’s momentum, formed by points from Bailey and junior Katie Sommer, eliminating the Panthers’ cushion after a 5-0 run.

This would, in the end, hand the Hawkeyes a 17-15 lead.

Early in the third set of Iowa’s home opener, Bailey and Knight responded to each Hawkeye scoring boom, quieting 4-0 and 2-0 runs.

Iowa junior Cali Hoye’s 14 digs on the game were a career high.

South Dakota State:

Heading into the fifth set against South Dakota State, the Panthers found ways to upend the Jackrabbits’ scoring runs.

South Dakota State junior Mackenzie Hennon, however, tempered this trend, as she fastened the fifth set for the Jackrabbits with four kills and a block.

Her kill midway through the set put the Jackrabbits up 12-7.

A kill from Eastern junior Maggie Runge would shrink the Jackrabbits lead to six, with a score of 14-8, but a series of blocks in the final sequence, by way of South Dakota State senior Payton Richardson, ensured an Eastern loss in match point.

Both Eastern and South Dakota State traded wins throughout the match, with the former winning the first and third sets.

Junior Morgan Matusik kept the Panthers’ offense balanced throughout the third set, capping a 4-0 run to open the set, while ending it with yet another kill, this time off an assist from freshman Bailey Chandler.

Massachusetts Lowell:

In Eastern’s sweep over Massachusetts Lowell, junior Morgan Matusik had contributed in much the same manner as she would against South Dakota State the next day, in Eastern’s sweep over Massachusetts Lowell.

Once again, Matusik kept the Panthers’ offense jibing throughout the match.

At the back end of a 4-0 run in the third set, Matusik sought out the services of redshirt-junior Gina Furlin.

Furlin tipped up the ball in Matusik’s direction for the kill, resulting in a 4-0 Eastern lead.

Matusik’s kill in the early stages of set three put the finishing touch on a 4-0 run, which would foreshadow her spike to close out the set.

Her nine kills in the match supplemented Bailey’s eight and Sommer’s seven.

Drake:

The Panthers’ offensive attack became complacent in sets two and three, despite their successes at matching, to an extent, Drake’s energy in set one.

By the time Eastern adjusted its approach in set three, the Bulldogs had bolted ahead too far, leaving the Panthers in their wake.

An Eastern 3-0 run in set three, which included a kill Taylor Smith and Runge block, would dwindle the Bulldogs lead to 10, which, at one point, had been as much as 12.

Four Bulldogs players, junior Elle Tubbs, senior Cathryn Cheek, junior Callan Holmes and sophomore Emily Plock, uplifted Drake with double figures in kills.

Knight’s nine kills and redshirt-junior Anne Hughes 24 digs, meanwhile, headlined the Panthers offensive attack.

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