Panthers back home for weekend matches

Members+of+the+Eastern+volleyball+team+celebrate+a+point+in+a+match+against+Morehead+State+on+Oct.+22+in+Lantz+Arena.+The+Panthers+lost+the+match+3-0+to+the+Eagles.+

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Members of the Eastern volleyball team celebrate a point in a match against Morehead State on Oct. 22 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers lost the match 3-0 to the Eagles.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

For the first time this conference season, the Eastern volleyball team will be playing after coming off a win. 

After picking up a road win on Tuesday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, the Panthers will be playing a pair of home matches against Tennessee Tech this weekend. 

The match Friday will begin at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s contest will start at 4 p.m.

The Panthers won Tuesday after losing the first set 25-21, but then won three in a row including a 25-10 win in the third set and a 31-29 win in the fourth and final set of the match. 

Eastern outhit the Cougars in each of the last three sets, including hitting .455 in the third set while the Cougars’ hitting percentage was zero. 

They outhit SIUE in the match .210 to .118. 

The Panthers were led offensively in the match by outside hitters Danielle Allen with 17 kills and Ireland Hieb with 10 kills. Hieb also hit a team high .500 in the match.

Ashley Sharkus had a game-high 20 digs for the Panthers while setter Summerlyn Smith recorded 47 assists.

Since Eastern broke its 11-match conference match with its win Tuesday, Tennessee State now own the longest active losing streak in the conference at nine matches. 

Eastern and Tennessee State have identical conference records this season, both being 1-11 in OVC play. Additionally, both teams have struggled in conference play after having successful nonconference stretches to open the season. 

Eastern was 7-3 prior to conference play while the Tigers were 8-1, placing each team near the top of the preseason standings.

Tennessee State’s last two losses came on the road against Murray State last weekend and each of their last four losses have been in straight sets. 

Tennessee State is led offensively by Aniya Williams, who ranks eighth in the OVC this season with 3.15 kills per set. 

The Tigers also have one of the top liberos in the conference, and the nation, in Gina Rivera Ortiz. 

She ranks second in the OVC in digs per set, trailing also Murray State’s Becca Fernandez. 

Rivera Ortiz is averaging 5.68 digs per set, ranking her fifth in all of Division I in that category. 

Friday’s match will be the 41st matchup between the two programs, with Eastern having won 27 of the first 40 matches. The teams split a pair of matches last season. 

 

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