Amettis, Flynn lead volleyball team to first OVC win


Han Byer

Freshman outside and opposite hitter, Lilli Amettis (left), and junior libero and defensive Specialist Christina Martinez Mundo (right) celebrate with their team after scoring a point in the third set against the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars at Lantz Arena Friday evening. The Panthers won 3-1 against the Cougars.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

The Eastern volleyball team proved that their biggest weapon going into OVC play was being able to utilize players off its bench as freshman outside hitter Lilli Amettis led the team to a 3-1 win over SIUE in Lantz Arena Friday evening. 

Amettis came off the bench for the Panthers in the second set and proved to be a presence for the rest of the night. She ended the night with 10 kills, three digs and two block assists. 

Four of Amettis’ kills came in the third set, which the Panthers won 25-16. Two of the kills were back-to-back as one of them was hit straight down, making it impossible to defend. Amettis would later get the set point for the Panthers, sealing the set win. 

Amettis said that it feels good to be back on the court as she had been battling a thumb injury. She said that being young and performing well makes a statement for the Panther volleyball program. 

“I feel like anyone can come in here as long as you are a good teammate, a good player, you have a good chance,” Amettis said. “Everyone has an opportunity at some point, so, you just got to work for it.” 

The first set saw the Panthers come out hot as they had 11 kills, 5 services aces and 20 digs. Their performance as a team sealed the 25-21 first set win.  

One of the more memorable moments of the first set was when the Cougars managed to block the Panthers’ efforts twice but on the third strike, Kaitlyn Flynn came through with a kill on the right side, putting the Panthers up 16-12.  

The Panthers would have won the second set, but five attack errors and a lapse of defense led the Cougars to taking set two with a score of 25-15.  

The Cougars were led by Ainsley Ranstead with 12 kills and Caroline Waite with 26 assists. Nicole Kijowski came in handy on defense with 19 digs.  

The younger players continue to be an asset for the Panthers as sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn, once again, led the Panthers in kills with 17. Flynn also had a season-high of three service aces, two of which were back-to-back in the first set, as the Panthers had 11 on the night. 

Flynn and Amettis fed off each other throughout the night as there was a sequence in the last set where Amettis had a kill from the left side, Flynn followed that up with her own kill and then Amettis managed to get a kill off the Cougars’ block, putting the Panthers up 15-10.  

Number 11, Kaitlyn Flynn, a sophomore outside hitter spikes the ball halfway through the match against the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars at Lantz Arena Friday evening. Flynn had 4 spikes leading the Panthers with 17 kills and scored 20.5 points. The Panthers won 3-1 against the Cougars. (Han Byer)

Flynn said her performance is shaped by her teammates. 

“I’m super happy with how we all played together and without my team, like I always say that without my team, it wouldn’t be possible, and they always pushed me to be the best I can and even if I do mess up, they’re there for me and be like you got the next ball.” 

Another player that the Panthers rely on is libero Christina Martinez Mundo. Mundo had 29 digs and her most vital one came in the last set as the Panthers won 25-19. 

Mundo was on the floor on the left side, and she was able to save the ball by putting her palms up, pushing it into the hands of setter Summerlyn Smith, who was able to give Giovanna Larregui Lopez a kill from the left side. 

Lopez had 15 kills, 12 digs and three service aces while Smith had 16 assists. 

Both Flynn and Amettis put their hands to their mouths as they described the dig by Mundo. 

“I got goosebumps, I was like ‘Christina I got goosebumps.’ I mean, that was amazing. Everyone was like, oh my gosh, that was awesome, but it’s normal for her, she’s awesome,” Flynn said. 

“I’m so thankful she did it was nerve wracking. Honestly, I was like, ‘okay everyone breathe like we got to relax’ because we have a tendency to be super anxious and like on the last point, it was super stressful,” Amettis said. “I feel like we kept our composure and as soon as Christy got that dig, I knew we were fine.” 

The Panthers will be back in action tomorrow in Lantz at 4 p.m.  

 Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]