Eastern volleyball team loses to Tigers in 4 sets at home


Elizabeth Wood | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern senior Maggie Runge makes contact on a kill attempt against Tennessee State on Nov. 9 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers lost the match 3-1. Runge recorded 11 kills and led the team with 13 points.

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

Through three sets against Tennessee State on Nov. 9, the Eastern volleyball team was hitting as efficiently and aggressively as it has all season, recording a hitting percentage of .319 and averaging 13.67 kills per set. 

The Panthers won the third set 25-16, their largest margin of victory in a set this season. But the Tigers responded in set four, beating the Panthers 25-11 and handing Eastern its 13th loss in 14 conference matches.

“Tennessee State did a good job to start serving more aggressively than they had, and we weren’t able to control it as well as we had in the past,” Eastern head coach Julie Allen said.

Despite recording a hitting percentage of zero in the fourth set, the Panthers’ hitting percentage on the match was .246, their highest percentage in a match this season.

This number was bolstered by the third set, in which the Panthers collected 15 kills and hit .519, which was also the highest hitting percentage they have recorded in a single set this season.

Eastern’s previous highs were .242 for a match and .375 for a set. Both performances came against South Dakota State on Aug. 30, the very first match of the season.

Senior Maggie Runge led the Panthers with 13 points and set the tone for the team with five kills in the third set.

“I think a big part of what helped us in the third set is we had our serve receive and our defense,” Runge said. “We had talked about it after the second game, just picking it up, being aggressive and going for everything.”

Runge also said that the Tigers were able to respond in set four to what Eastern did well in set three.

“They were pretty aggressive with their serves,” Runge said. “We kind of were a little bit off with our serve receive and we couldn’t really get the ball to the position that we wanted it. I think that helped them, just getting us out of system.”

Runge also had 11 kills in the match, tied for the team lead with Morgan Matusik. The 11 kills set a season high for Matusik and was her highest output in a match since Sept. 8, 2018.

“I think that the setters did a really good job of setting with a single blocker or a big hole in the block, and the middles did a really good job pulling the blockers, so that made it easy for me to do my job,” Matusik said.

Matusik said that heightened communication and more aggressive serving helped the Panthers take set three, but the Tigers did a good job responding.

The Panthers have three matches remaining this season, all at home, beginning Monday evening against non-conference opponent Chicago State. The final two matches are OVC matches, coming against Tennessee-Martin on Nov. 15 and Southeast Missouri on Nov. 16.

Allen said that, although the team is not happy with its record, she is happy with its competitive level of play late in the season.

“There are some phenomenal things out there,” Allen said. “It’s just sparks of what is going to come in the future.”


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