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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


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Panthers shutout Eagles to improve to 5-0 in the OVC

Senior outside hitter Giovana Larregui López jumps in the air to successfully kill the ball against Morehead States. The Panthers shutout Morehead 3-0. (Rob Le Cates)

The Eastern Illinois volleyball team improved its win-streak to five in a row over the Morehead State University Eagles with a 3-0 win Thursday evening at Lantz Arena.

The Panthers are now 5-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference and 15-1 overall. The Panthers won set one 25-16, set two 25-17, and set three 25-20.

Head coach Sara Thomas said that the sweep of the Eagles was exciting.

“Morehead is always a tough team,” Thomas said. “You know, they always have been really great and at the top of the conference, so coming out with a win, it’s just nice.”

The 5-0 start to the 2023 season has been the best start in Panther volleyball history. Earlier this week, the Panthers ranked 68th out of 344 Division I teams in the NCAA.

The Panthers are also one win away from tying their number of wins from last season. They are also three wins away from tying the fourth most wins since 2000.

Thomas said that a large part of the success comes from emphasis on passing and serving.

“Because I’m learning systems that’s just going to help Cati or Sylvie, our attackers, so that’s always been our answer,” Thomas said.

The Panthers took set one 25-16 despite the Eagles jumping out to a 7-2 lead at the hands of sophomore outside hitter M.E. Hargan and freshman middle blocker Hollan Everett.

However, the Panthers were quick to answer back as junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn, senior outside hitter Giovana Larregui Lopez, and sophomore middle blocker Kate Dean were able to lay down the ball for the Panthers.

Flynn had her fifth consecutive match with double digit kills as she put down 10 for the Panthers. Larregui Lopez led the Panthers with 13 kills.

Dean was also strong for the Panthers as she put down eight balls with one service ace.

Dean said that the Panthers try to win every moment.

“We just keep trying to focus on each point at a time and like not get ahead of ourselves and just perfect what we have because we have a lot of good people this year,” Dean said.

One of those new faces on the court this year is freshman middle blocker Julia Stanev from Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Stanev was able to block many balls in the middle for the Panthers against the Eagles. Stanev is tied for seventh in the OVC for blocks. She has 16 blocks on the season, averaging one block per game.

Stanev said that playing for the Panthers is very different for her because she used to play in Europe.

“The American conference is very difficult because we play like two matches in a row, like two games,” Stanev said. “But I’m getting used to it, I love it. I love the atmosphere in the team.”

There were multiple challenge calls by Thomas throughout the match that won the Panthers important points.

Stanev said that Thomas trusts the team to tell her when she needs to throw down the challenge card.

“We usually make eye contact with her, like if we know that there’s a touch we tell her, and she trusts us,” Stanev said.

The Panthers are back in action tomorrow in Lantz Arena against the Eagles starting at 4 p.m. as they look to extend their historic win-streak to six games.

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

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About the Contributors
Autumn Schulz
Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor
Autumn Schulz is a junior sports media relations major. She previously served as the assistant sports editor at The News.
Rob Le Cates
Rob Le Cates, Editor-in-Chief
Rob Le Cates is a junior journalism major. He previously served as summer editor-in-chief, photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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