Volleyball goes winless over weekend, still searching for first win

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Volleyball goes winless over weekend, still searching for first win

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News
Bailey Chandler (left) gets ready to set teammate Maggie Runge (right) who is setting up her approach. Eastern lost to South Dakota State 3-1 Aug. 30 in Lantz Arena.

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Bailey Chandler (left) gets ready to set teammate Maggie Runge (right) who is setting up her approach. Eastern lost to South Dakota State 3-1 Aug. 30 in Lantz Arena.

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Bailey Chandler (left) gets ready to set teammate Maggie Runge (right) who is setting up her approach. Eastern lost to South Dakota State 3-1 Aug. 30 in Lantz Arena.

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Bailey Chandler (left) gets ready to set teammate Maggie Runge (right) who is setting up her approach. Eastern lost to South Dakota State 3-1 Aug. 30 in Lantz Arena.

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

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After losing its first two matches of the Central Michigan Invitational to fall to 0-5 on the season, the Eastern volleyball team pushed North Dakota State to a decisive fifth set Saturday afternoon in search of its first win.

The Bison stayed strong, however, winning the set 15-12 and handing the Panthers’ their second straight winless weekend to begin the season.

“Throughout the whole tournament, our team stayed focused and diligent,” said Eastern head coach Julie Allen. “I think that’s what you see from the last match. We’re still fighting for every point, tooth and nail.”

That mentality was also present in the Panthers first three matches of the season in the EIU Panther Invitational, where despite three losses, the team was within striking distance at the end of nearly every set.

Another similarity between the two invitationals is lackluster second sets. The Panthers’ point differentials by set help paint this picture.

On the season, in the first set, the Panthers have scored 133 points and allowed 133. In the second set, the Panthers have been outscored 150-99.

They bounce back a little bit in the third set, only being outscored by 24 points.

Eastern has only played a fourth set in three matches, but are 1-2 in them, having been outscored 74-73.

The Panthers have won the first set in three of their six matches, but have not been able to carry this momentum forward.

Allen said that as the team becomes more experienced, she thinks they will perform better in the second sets. She also said the team has to remember to “keep their foot on the gas” and stay positive if they start falling behind after winning the previous set.

The Panthers have also been trying to improve their kill numbers during the early part of the season. Allen said the goal is to average 16 kills per set, which she said is the number that would give them the best chance to win.

Eastern averaged 12.27 kills per set in the first invitational, but that number dropped to 9.54 in the second.

That gives them 10.91 kills per set average on the season, which is 10th in the OVC.

“We’re definitely not there yet,” Allen said. “It’s about getting our hitters’ minds around the fact that they’ve got to keep being aggressive and not shying away.”

Allen also said that she is not very concerned with the win-loss record at this point. She said the goal is to keep building a foundation and culture to set them up for success when conference play begins.

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