Volleyball team loses on senior night, Allen out as head coach


The Daily Eastern News

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Sarah Paluch dives to save a ball during Eastern’s 3-2 victory over Chicago State Nov. 11 in Lantz Arena. Eastern lost its final match of the season 3-0 to Southeast Missouri in Lantz Arena Nov. 16.

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

Senior members of the Eastern volleyball team hugged and took pictures with their teammates, families and friends on the court after falling in straight sets to Southeast Missouri Nov. 16 in Lantz Arena.

It was senior night for Eastern as Breanna Jager, Morgan Matusik, Maggie Runge and Katie Sommer were honored before their final collegiate match. It was also the last match at Eastern for head coach Julie Allen. It was announced Sunday that her contract was not being renewed, ending her time at Eastern after two seasons.

After the final point, which put an end to a season that was not what the Panthers (3-26, 1-15) had hoped for, Runge and Sommer were emotional as they said they will look back fondly on their Eastern careers.

“In my four years here, we didn’t really have the best records, and we went through coaching changes and it wasn’t always the easiest,” Runge said. “But you go through all these hard times and these tough times with the people that you love, and you’ve been around them for four years.”

The coaching changes Runge mentioned were prior to the news of Allen’s departure. Allen was the third head coach Runge and her fellow seniors, except for transfer Jager, were involved with at Eastern. They were recruited by Kate Price who resigned as coach after the 2014 season.

Sam Wolinski coached Matusik, Runge and Sommer for their first two seasons before her contract was not renewed and Allen took over.

Runge led the team with seven kills against Southeast Missouri, also recording three block assists and four digs. During the season, Runge led the Panthers with 240 kills and 294.5 points.

She finished the season ranked eighth in the OVC with a .298 hitting percentage, which also led the team.

Sommer was the Panthers’ second-leading scorer in the final match as well as for the season. She had five kills against the Redhawks and 196 kills and 245.5 points on the season. Sommer said that, like Runge, she values the relationships from her time on the team.

“We haven’t had the best luck our four years here, but the ability to stay here and make the relationship with Maggie and the rest of my team has been unreal,” Sommer said. “It’s just really nice to have been able to be a part of something so great. The people are so great here.”

Allen said, despite the team’s record, she appreciated the contributions of the senior class and team as a whole throughout the season, which at the time was not known to be her last.

“We’re really proud of our seniors,” Allen said. “They’ve pushed us, they’ve helped us grow a good, strong foundation.”

She said that she is optimistic that this season’s freshman class will be successful going forward.

Ireland Hieb led the team in kills per set during the season. Sarah Paluch began to see more time at libero in the later stages of the season and averaged 3.51 digs per set over the Panthers’ last 11 matches.

Bailey Chandler and Laurel Bailey are also returning for the Panthers next season in what will be their junior and senior seasons respectively.

Chandler ranked eighth in the OVC in assists per set (8.30) in what was her first season as the Panthers’ primary setter.

She averaged 8.93 assists per set over the final four matches of the season. Excluding the finale, in which she split time with Jager, she averaged 9.92 assists per set in the previous three matches.

Bailey led the Panthers as a sophomore with 311 kills and 2.91 kills per set. Her kill numbers dropped off this season, as she averaged 1.75 kills per set but remained relatively steady with her dig and block numbers.

Runge said that after each game the team gathers and hands out moments of greatness, when they point out strong performances or aspects of each game.

“It gives them the opportunity to know that, even though we didn’t win or we had a tough match, that they did great things and they’re going to keep getting better,” Runge said.

She said that she and her fellow seniors wish the team the best going forward and hope they can find success.

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