The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

EIU volleyball team sweeps Little Rock in first OVC meeting

Number+20+Emily+Wilcox%2C+a+junior+middle+blocker%2C+hits+the+ball+over+the+net+during+the+volleyball+game+against+the+University+of+Arkansas-+Little+Rock+Trojans+Friday+evening+at+Lantz+Arena.+Wilcox+had+3+spikes+and+4+kills%2C+scoring+7.5+points.+The+Panthers+won+3-0+against+the+Trojans.

Han Byer

Number 20 Emily Wilcox, a junior middle blocker, hits the ball over the net during the volleyball game against the University of Arkansas- Little Rock Trojans Friday evening at Lantz Arena. Wilcox had 3 spikes and 4 kills, scoring 7.5 points. The Panthers won 3-0 against the Trojans.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

Eastern won its first ever matchup with new Ohio Valley Conference member Little Rock at home. The Panthers were able to sweep them 3-0 as sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn shined in Friday night’s match as she led EIU in kills, digs, and points.

Flynn led EIU across the board with 18 kills, 13 digs, and 19 points. She also recorded 3 blocks, which put her right behind leader senior middle blocker Ireland Hieb’s 4 blocks. After Friday’s match, Flynn leads the team in points with 193 on the season. Flynn gave credit to her team for her success in the game.

“It’s because of my team. They push me to be better every single day in practice and every game when I step on the court, like I know they have my back,” Flynn said. “Like I know if I do mess up, I know they got me on the next point. They know I have them. So, it’s awesome to have a great support system.”

The Panthers had many players shine throughout the game. Freshman setter Catalina Rochaix had an astronomical 27 assists. It is the most assists she has had in a three-set match so far this season.

Junior outside hitter Giovana Larregui Lopez recorded two services aces in the third set.

Junior middle blocker Emily Wilcox recorded a season-high blocks with 4. She also had one service ace. She also gave credit to her team and her ability to stay consistent for her success.

“Thanks to my team. I mean, I’ve been off and on the court, so I think just trying to stay consistent when I’m in and do my best,” Wilcox said.

The Panthers recorded three season high totals as a team in the match. They had their highest attack percentage with .347%, their greatest number of kills in a three-set match with 44, and their most assists in a three-set match also with 44.

Number 4 Christina Martinez Mundo, a junior libero and defensive specialist, dives and hits the ball during the volleyball game against the University of Arkansas- Little Rock Trojans Friday evening at Lantz Arena. Mundo had three spikes. The Panthers won 3-0 against the Trojans. (Han Byer)

EIU showed dominance over Little Rock as the first set began. EIU’s toughness, teamwork, and communication proved to be too much for Little Rock. They had a 7-0 run in the set that led them to take it 25-11 over the Trojans.

The second set was a little bit closer, but EIU showed their dominance as they pushed through to take it 25-20.

Little Rock took their first two-point lead of the match in the third set. Little Rock started to come alive and were able to make the match more competitive. The set was neck and neck for most of the time, but EIU was able to come out with the win as Flynn slammed down her 18th kill of the match to take match point as the Panthers won 25-20.

EIU took its fourth sweep of the season, the first one being at home and in the OVC. Coach Sara Thomas was proud of her team after they brought themselves to 3-1 in the OVC as well.

“I’m extremely excited and happy how disciplined our team played tonight. That is the biggest difference – when we take care of business on our side,” Thomas said.

Thomas was happy to see the level of discipline that her players had in Friday’s game.

“That discipline to come out into the third set and take care of business is actually what I’m really most excited about,” said Thomas. “We’re learning to close even though it was a tight set. We still put the pedal to the metal and finished it out.”

Friday’s matchup was the first time EIU had played Little Rock as an official member of the OVC. Their coach, Van Compton, has been with the team for 35 years and has won several championships and has had five appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Thomas recognized Compton and her achievements and realized her team had to come out and play hard.

“Their coach Van is a legend. She’s been around for a really long time, she’s a nice woman. Their team, historically, has been very good. They’ve won championships,” Thomas said. “So, to be able to come out and play like we did against that team that has historically a really high level of play, you know, it feels nice because our team played like a team.”

Thomas looks forward to coming back Saturday afternoon in their second matchup of the weekend. She expects Little Rock to come out ready to battle.

“They’re a good team. So, I’m highly expecting them to come out and play a cleaner game. So, I feel that it’s going to be a battle,” Thomas said. “I hope that we can just pull out the win, whether it’s in three or four or five to go 2-0 on the weekend against them. That would be a great accomplishment.”

Wilcox and Flynn feel confident going into Saturday’s 4 p.m. match with Little Rock.

“I think we feel super good, like motivated, because we know we’re capable of taking them again,” Wilcox said. “But we also know they’re not gonna back down. They’re a very good team. They want to win too; I think they are super motivated and as long as we stay super disciplined and take care of ourselves, we’ll be good.”

“We know, like, even though it’s awesome to win 3-0, it’s a great thing. But we know, like tomorrow, they’re gonna probably come back and like want it more and play harder,” Flynn said. “So, we know like, we can’t take our foot off the gas.”

Kate Stevens can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

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