Volleyball team goes 1-2 in Bradley Braves tournament

Tom O’Connor, Volleyball Reporter

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Omaha:

Any sense that the Eastern volleyball team’s scoring woes on Friday, losing 3-0 to both Bradley and Milwaukee, would be a recurring question on Saturday became quickly dismissed, as a season-high 17 kills from Laurel Bailey vitalized the offense in a sweep over Omaha (25-18, 25-23, 25-20) at the Bradley Braves tournament.

The Panthers tightened their offensive attack with a .308 attack percentage in their second victory on the road, the highest figure for any match this season. 

Two Panthers, in particular, hoisted up their team’s chances on day two of the tournament, with Bailey lifting up the Panthers’ execution on the offensive side, while junior Maggie Runge, who compiled four blocks, picked up their performance on the defensive end.

Eastern packaged together runs of 3-0 and 4-0 in the third set, sealing the match on a united effort from Runge and freshman Hannah Sieg for a block on Omaha sophomore Claire Leonard.

When Omaha took an 18-17 lead in the third, Bailey and junior Katie Sommer blended together three kills to exert the Panthers further ahead, fleecing the match from Omaha in the final nine sequences.

The Panthers rebounded from an 18-12 deficit in the second set, on account of Omaha’s inability to rekindle its offense, and, later, a defensive collapse by which Eastern scored four unanswered points. 

 The Durangos, who had jockeyed their way back into the match, were the beneficiaries of a pair of kills from Omaha freshman Sadie Limback and Leonard.

 That, coupled with the Panthers’ ball handling and attack errors, permitted the Durangos to take a six-point lead in the first place.

This victory put a damper on the Panthers’ struggles of late. In advance of its win against Omaha, Eastern had been burdened with a losing streak of four games, and two of those matches came versus Bradley and Milwaukee this weekend.

Milwaukee:

Runge’s kill late in set three handed Eastern a 22-21 lead, but Milwaukee would have a reply, inducing two 2-0 runs in the final five progressions, as the Panthers lost 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-16) on Friday night. 

Runge’s kill to begin set three, along with Laurel Bailey’s service ace, drove Eastern’s attack early, snagging three points to Milwaukee’s zero. But its opponent bounced back, tacking on a 4-0 run to give them an 8-7 lead and, although Eastern mounted a revival, sophomore Carmen Heilemann’s two kills motioned a win for Milwaukee.

A double-double for Bailey, consisting of 10 kills and 14 digs, would be her second on the day.

Bradley: 

The leads would arrive and then quickly depart.

Despite losing in set one, Eastern still produced its attack at a rate of 60 percent. However, when the Panthers attempted to replicate such success, their offense would not be quite as polished in the remaining two, surrendering three sets to tournament host Bradley (25-21, 25-17, 25-16) on Friday.

As Eastern junior Morgan Matusik amplified Eastern’s momentum with four kills in the set, Bradley senior Erica Haslag kept her offense churning as she supplied two kills to top off a 6-0 run and the game.

The Panthers equated Bradley’s score seven times, before Bradley freshman Rachel Pranger and redshirt junior Maggie Revell incited an 8-0 scoring run for the Braves, which, by the end of it, equipped  them with a 14-7 lead.

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