Panthers lose in straight sets at home


Adam Tumino

Eastern junior Laurel Bailey steps in front of a serve to make a pass against Southern Illinois Edwardsville Nov. 6 in Lantz Arena. Bailey had eight kills and 12 digs in the match, a 3-0 loss for the Panthers.

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

The Eastern volleyball team opened up a five-match homestand against its only instate OVC rival, Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Wednesday night and were swept by the Cougars for the second time this season.

The loss was the 14th straight-sets loss for the Panthers this season, with 11 of those coming in 13 conference matches. Eastern is now 1-12 in conference play.

Southern Illinois Edwardsville’s identity is different from the Panthers’ previous five opponents, who are all in the top five in the OVC in kills per set. The Cougars rank ninth in that category, but are more successful on the defensive leaderboards. They rank fourth in digs per set and second in blocks per set.

Eastern head coach Julie Allen said that, although the kill numbers may not be high, the Cougars are challenging offensively due to the infrequency of errors.

“They are very smart with their attacking and their errors very minimally,” Allen said. “They make you earn it.”

Southern Illinois Edwardsville has the fifth best team hitting percentage in the OVC. The Cougars made only 16 attack errors and hit .174 for the match while the Panthers made 26 attack errors and hit .037.

After dropping the first set 25-22, the Panthers battled the Cougars early in the second set. The score was tied at 7-7 before a 12-2 run by Southern Illinois Edwardsville all but sealed the set victory. The Panthers would cut the deficit to six on two separate occasions, but lost 25-17.

When Eastern was able to score during the Cougars’ runs, they could not respond with runs of their own.

“Definitely the game went up and down,” Allen said. “SIUE was a little more aggressive in their serving, which made it a little harder for us to pass.”

Leading the way for the Panthers offensively were Maggie Runge, Laurel Bailey and Kylie Michael. Runge led the team with 9.5 points, recording five kills, three solo blocks and three block assists.

Bailey and Michael each had nine points coming via eight kills and two block assists.

Sophomore Danielle Allen only played one set for the Panthers, but was fourth on the team with four kills. She recorded a career-high hitting percentage of .800, doubling up her previous career-high that was recorded last September.

The Cougars’ leading scorer was Rachel McDonald. She tallied 12 kills and 12.5 points while hitting .258. Only one other Southern Illinois Edwardsville player scored in double figures: Kiana Fields.

Fields had eight kills and five block assists for 10.5 points. She led all Cougars with a hitting percentage of .438.

Eastern plays again Saturday when Tennessee State comes to Lantz Arena. The Tigers are in 10th place in the OVC but have won their previous two matches.

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