The Eastern volleyball team will travel to play its first road conference match of the season Wednesday evening, as the Panthers will take on Southern Illinois Edwardsville at 6 p.m.
The Panthers (1-13, 0-2) and the Cougars (5-9, 0-2) are two of the three OVC teams who went winless in the first weekend of conference play, joining Belmont (1-16, 0-2).
Eastern heads into the match following a straight-sets loss to Austin Peay Sept. 28, a match in which the Panthers recorded their highest kills per set average of the season and had more kills and more blocks than the Governors.
Eastern head coach Julie Allen said she and Southern Illinois Edwardsville head coach Kendall Paulus arranged for their matches to be Wednesday instead of the typical Tuesday in order to keep their players’ schedules more consistent.
“We allow our athletes to have that Sunday off and keep that routine,” Allen said. “I think it helps our student athletes’ bodies. I think it helps our minds as coaches, and let’s us let go of the last two matches and take notes of what we want to get better at.”
Allen said something the team is still trying to get better at is maintaining its confidence level, not just in the Austin Peay match but also in their match against Murray State Sept. 27.
“I still talk to them every day about believing in themselves, believing that they’re worthy of that win,” she said. “Their hard work is going to pay off, they just have to believe that they have the right to win.”
Allen said Murray State is a good example of the mindset she wants to implement at Eastern. The Racers have been OVC champions three of the last five seasons, and head coach David Schwepker is now in his 22nd season with the program.
“They come in walking in a little more confidently, and with maybe a little swagger to them,” Allen said. “I’m hoping to develop that with these young females that I have. That’s the one thing we have to keep growing, is to have that swagger and realize that we definitely have everything in place to win. We should win.”
Eastern did win against Southern Illinois Edwardsville in their conference opener last year. The two teams split their two matchups a season ago, with Eastern winning five of the eight sets they played.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]