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 advances to semifinals after 3-0 victory

Rob Le Cates
From left, sophomore setter Catalina Rochaix and senior outside hitter Giovana Larregui López celebrate after scoring a point during the volleyball against Morehead State Thursday evening at Lantz Arena. Rochaix led the team with 34 assists and had two digs. López led the Panthers with 13 kills and 15 points.

Eastern’s volleyball team had a dominant victory over the eight seeded Little Rock Trojans in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

The victory would start off with the Panthers receiving the opening point of the match as the ball went out of bounds off a Trojan player.

Panther’s junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn would score back-to-back to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead in the first set.

Flynn sent a kill towards the inbounds line that was ruled a point for the Panthers but was challenged and overturned.

Both teams traded points until Panther’s senior outside hitter Giovana Larregui López would score three straight points for the Panthers, making the score 10-7.

A following block and kill from Flynn forced a Trojan timeout.

After the timeout, the teams would again trade points until the score was 16-10 with the Panthers seeing their largest lead of the set so far.

Junior libero/defensive specialist Laura Paniagua recorded a kill and service ace which was followed up by a kill from sophomore middle blocker Kate Dean.

Larregui López would find two more kills and a block before a Trojan error would make the score of the first set 25-14 in favor of the Panthers.

After a brief back and forth in the second set, a Paniagua service ace helped the Panthers take a three-point lead of their own.

Eastern’s senior middle blocker Emily Wilcox scored a kill that would be the first of five straight from the Panthers.

Graduate outside/opposite hitter Natalie Mitchem recorded a block and kill, and Wilcox provided back-to-back kills herself to make the score 14-8.

Wilcox and Larregui López led the team with nine kills each during the second set, followed behind by Mitchem who had seven.

“It was natural,” Wilcox said about the team’s second set. The Panthers would take the second set 25-13 after a service ace from sophomore setter Sylvia Hasz.

 “We keep the focus on us all the time,” Panthers’ Head Coach Sara Thomas said. “We say, ‘live in the now, point by point. We have to take care of our side.’”

The final set was more competitive than the previous two. The teams would come out and trade points until a Trojan lead spurred a Panther timeout.

Following the timeout, the lead would widen to four, and the Panthers would call their second timeout soon after.

Thomas spoke on what the team talked about during those timeouts.

“There was a change here or there in the servicing line and the hitting pattern,” Thomas said. “We also talked about how to stay together in the moment.”

Mitchem scored three kills in a row to make the score 13-16. A service ace from Wilcox, a kill from Mitchem, and a kill from Flynn would tie the score at 17-17.

Larregui López would then go on a scoring run by herself, trading with the Trojans until the score was 23-22, and the Panthers would book their ticket to the semifinal after a final kill.

“We’re so ready,” Wilcox said. “This [win] makes us even more excited. It’s what we’ve prepared for.”

“We’re taking one day at a time,” Thomas said. “We won today, now we shift our focus to USI. They gave us a good battle earlier in the year. They’re a very solid team, so we’ll be ready to come out and compete.”

The Panthers will now play the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles in the OVC Championship Semifinals tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Maurice Phipps can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Maurice Phipps, Sports Reporter
Maurice Phipps can be reached at [email protected] or 581-2812.
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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