Top of OVC standings crowded early on

Eastern+redshirt+sophomore+Kylie+Michael+returns+a+serve+in+front+of+teammate+Madison+Cunningham+in+the+Panthers%E2%80%99+match+against+Austin+Peay+on+Sept.+28+in+Lantz+Arena.+The+Panthers+lost+the+match+in+straight+sets.+
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Top of OVC standings crowded early on

Eastern redshirt sophomore Kylie Michael returns a serve in front of teammate Madison Cunningham in the Panthers’ match against Austin Peay on Sept. 28 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers lost the match in straight sets.

Eastern redshirt sophomore Kylie Michael returns a serve in front of teammate Madison Cunningham in the Panthers’ match against Austin Peay on Sept. 28 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers lost the match in straight sets.

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern redshirt sophomore Kylie Michael returns a serve in front of teammate Madison Cunningham in the Panthers’ match against Austin Peay on Sept. 28 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers lost the match in straight sets.

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern redshirt sophomore Kylie Michael returns a serve in front of teammate Madison Cunningham in the Panthers’ match against Austin Peay on Sept. 28 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers lost the match in straight sets.

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

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Through two weeks of conference play, the OVC volleyball standings are shaping up to be competitive at the top.

Five OVC teams are 3-1 in conference play so far and three teams are 2-2, setting up matchups that can be very influential in the standings.

Eastern is the only team that is winless in conference play and has yet to win a set in its four matches. The Panthers lost twice in the past week to Southern Illinois Edwardsville, who had lost 14 in a row prior, and Belmont, who had lost eight in a row.

One of the 3-1 teams, Austin Peay, will play its next two games against a pair of other 3-1 teams, hosting Murray State Wednesday and traveling to Morehead State Saturday.

Eastern plays one of the other two 3-1 teams Saturday when they play Southeast Missouri on the road. The Panthers also play a road match against a 1-3 team Sunday against Tennessee-Martin.

Eastern is winless despite being in the middle of the conference in two defensive statistics: blocks and digs.

The Panthers are sixth in the OVC with 1.98 blocks per set and seventh in the OVC with 15.36 digs per set.

Offensively is where Eastern has struggled this season, ranking 11th in hitting percentage and last in both kills and assists.

Bailey Chandler has the sixth most assists in the conference this season, but since she has been responsible for 85 percent of the team’s assists, the overall numbers are low.

Madison Cunningham continues to play well as Eastern’s libero, ranking sixth in the OVC with 4.33 digs per set.

Eastern’s top attacker and blocker this season has been senior Maggie Runge. She leads the team with 162.5 points, 131 kills and 49 total blocks.

Runge is outside the top 10 in the conference in those categories, but ranks fourth in the OVC with a career-high .308 hitting percentage, .059 points above her previous career high set last season.

Not surprisingly, Murray State’s Rachel Giustino and Morehead State’s Olivia Lohmeier continue to lead the conference in kills and points. Giustino is averaging 5.34 kills and 5.77 points per set. Lohmeier has 4.85 kills and 5.26 points per set.

Jacksonville State’s Lena Kindermann is third in both categories, but Giustino and Lohmeier are dominating the field. Kindermann is .97 kills per ser and 1.09 points per set behind Lohmeier.

 

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