Volleyball team to start OVC play Friday

Eastern+outside+hitter+Kaitlyn+Flynn+follows+through+on+a+kill+attempt+in+a+match+against+Indiana+State+on+Sept.+19+in+Lantz+Arena.+Flynn+had+10+kills+and+10+digs+in+the+match%2C+which+Eastern+lost+3-1.+

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn follows through on a kill attempt in a match against Indiana State on Sept. 19 in Lantz Arena. Flynn had 10 kills and 10 digs in the match, which Eastern lost 3-1.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

After a strong start in nonconference play, the Eastern volleyball will open conference season on the road Friday against Murray State.

The Panthers and Racers will play Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. 

Eastern dropped its last two matches to Indiana State and are facing a Murray State team that leads the entire nation in kills per set so far. 

Head coach Sara Thomas said that the team is heading into the weekend focusing on what they have the ability to control, as well as preparing on some things they are expecting Murray State to bring to the table. 

“We implement certain things into practice that they’ll see (against the Racers), but without focusing on what we’re doing, and if we go and do not take care of our side, then it won’t matter who we’re playing,” she said. 

Murray State is 6-4 in nonconference play and is averaging 15.05 kills per set with a hitting percentage of .227, which also leads the conference. 

Sophomore outside hitter Brooke Watts leads the nation with 5.81 kills per set and libero Becca Fernandez ranks second nationally with 5.89 digs per set. 

Eastern ranks fifth in hitting percentage (.185) and seventh in kills per set (11.76). Outside hitter Danielle Allen ranks sixth in the OVC with 3.37 kills per set and middle blocker Emily Wilcox is leading the conference with a .346 hitting percentage. 

The Panthers have had a solid start to the season, but Thomas said there are still some things they want to work on heading into conference play.

“Serve receive, our passing, that’s going to be a really big key,” she said. “Keeping our serving strong, like it has been, and continuing to have the synergy on and off the court, the chemistry, strong.”

Thomas also said that there are a lot of positives to take from the nonconference performance from a team that has finished at or near the bottom of the standings over the last several years. 

“This team is capable of doing more things than I think they originally thought,” she said. “They way that they have adjusted over their summer workouts and our preseason, coming in and learning how to win. And reacting in the way of, ‘okay, we may have not played well in one match, but that doesn’t define us.’”

She also said that the players have worked hard, and it has helped their confidence level rise. 

“Work ethic is one thing, and then their drive inside of them has just skyrocketed,” Thomas said. 

 

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