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

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EIU eliminated from NCAA tournament

Eastern experiences first sweep of the season
Head+Volleyball+Coach+Sara+Thomas+speaks+to+each+of+her+seniors+impact+on+her+and+the+team+for+this+season+during+the+after-game+press+conference+for+their+first+NCAA+tournament+appearance+since+2001.+Thomas+said+she+will+sad+to+see+some+players+who+have+been+with+her+since+she+started+coaching+at+Eastern+leave+this+year.
Rob Le Cates
Head Volleyball Coach Sara Thomas speaks to each of her senior’s impact on her and the team for this season during the after-game press conference for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001. Thomas said she will sad to see some players who have been with her since she started coaching at Eastern leave this year.

The Golden Eagles went on a 10-2 run to close out the third and final set of the match to knock off the Panthers in their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 22 years on Thursday evening in Lafayette, IN.

Eastern struggled to gain momentum throughout the entire game as the Panthers’ longest run was 4-0 in the first set compared to the Golden Eagles’ 6-0 run at the end of the third set.

Marquette University’s head volleyball coach, Ryan Theis, speaks during the after-game press conference and congratulates Eastern on their successful season. Theis was an assistant coach on Eastern’s last NCAA Tournament team in 2001. (Rob Le Cates)

Playing against the program that gave Marquette’s Head Coach Ryan Theis his first coaching job back in 2000, Theis said he was happy to see the Panthers make it into the NCAA Tournament.

To kick off the second set, Golden Eagle junior outside hitter Jenna Reitsma recorded two back-to-back service aces to give the Golden Eagles a fast 2-0 lead.

Eastern kept the margin relatively close until Marquette went on a 5-0 run to take a 12-7 lead.

To stop Eastern from recording long runs, Golden Eagles’ Head Coach Ryan Theis credited Marquette’s game plan for passes and digs.

“I think our pass and dig game was really high quality,” Theis said.

The Panthers didn’t gain a lot of momentum throughout the second set as the Golden Eagles went on a 13-8 run to close out the second set.

Junior libero/defensive specialist Laura Paniagua recorded a service error which gave the Golden Eagles the 25-16 win in the second set.

The Panthers recorded only two blocks throughout the three sets compared to the 11 the Golden Eagles recorded.

Panthers’ sophomore setter Catalina Rochaix recorded two blocks, one lone block and the other with sophomore middle blocker Kate Dean.

Golden Eagles’ junior middle blocker Carsen Murray led Marquette with nine blocks.

Senior outside hitter Giovana Larregui López hugs Eastern’s athletic director Tom Michael after the team finished the NCAA press conference. (Rob Le Cates)

Senior outside hitter Giovana Larregui López led the Panthers with 10 kills followed by junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn with seven and graduate outside hitter Natalie Mitchem with five.

Senior middle blocker Emily Wilcox and Rochaix each had one service ace during the game.

Senior libero/defensive specialist Christina Martinez Mundo led the team with 17 digs.

“I feel happy that we made it this far,” Martinez Mundo said. “We didn’t want to be that team anymore, that didn’t represent the way EIU should be represented. This year, we took the opportunity to give it our all and it paid off. I couldn’t be more than happy to be here and be part of the first round of the NCAA Tournament.”

The last time the Panthers got swept was against the Lindenwood Lions on Nov. 11, 2022.

With this loss, the Panthers ended their season 28-5, winning the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship and the OVC Tournament Championship.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the grind and the dedication that all of our girls put in,” Panthers’ Head Coach Sara Thomas said. “They really set the standard for the future years.”

Zaria Flippin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Zaria Flippin, Sports Editor
Zaria Flippin is a junior sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.
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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