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

Eastern’s win over SEMO places them securely at the top of the OVC

Outside hitter/opposite Natalie Mitchem (7) led the Panthers in points in points with 18.5 and in kills with 18. The Panthers beat SEMO 3-1. (File)

“We don’t want to keep teams in our conference the hope they can hang with us, because they can’t,” senior libero Christina Martinez Mundo said after Eastern’s match against the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks. “Nobody can stop us, and we know that.”

Coming into this game, Eastern and SEMO were the top two teams in the Ohio Valley Conference, and they were only one game apart. This means whoever won this game would be first in the OVC.

Tensions were indeed high during the match, but the Panthers were able to win 3-1. This win moves the team to 20-2 on the year and 10-2 in conference. 

This match started with the Redhawks catching the Panthers on their heels, putting up eight unanswered points in the first set.

This is partially due to self-inflicted wounds from the Panthers committing 10 errors (eight attacking, two service) in the first set alone. The Redhawks won the set 25-13. 

“Last night after practice we talked about what we are going to do if situations like that happen,” sophomore middle blocker Kate Dean said. “We talked about our breath control and just owning our moment because we can control us, and they can’t stop what we have.”  

The Panthers regained momentum in the second set, etching a narrow victory over SEMO winning 25-21. The two OVC juggernauts were neck and neck throughout the set, with no team able to get more than a three-point lead. This theme continued until both teams were tied at 17 points apiece.

The Panthers then proceeded to put up six unanswered points leading to the EIU win. This rally was led by Dean and senior outside hitter Giovana Larregui López, who were both responsible for three of the six points. 

The third set was controlled by the Panthers, losing the lead only once during its entirety. 

“We recognized what was working and we kept making that better,” Martinez Mundo said. “We knew some of our players were being more efficient than others, so we wanted to maximize that, and that’s what we did throughout the whole match.” 

Martinez Mundo suffered a twisted ankle in the middle of this set but remained on the court the entire match. She said that it feels normal postgame. 

Eastern went on to trounce SEMO in the fourth set, winning 25-14. Graduate outside hitter Natalie Mitchem set the tone for this set with three early kills. The Panthers never let up, scoring seven unanswered in the middle of the set. 

Reflecting on the win, Dean added, “It felt good, but it’ll feel better getting it again tomorrow.” 

The team plays SEMO again on Saturday in Lantz Arena at 4 p.m.

Aidan Cusack can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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Ashanti Thomas
Ashanti Thomas, Photographer
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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