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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Panthers of the Semester: MJ Flowers, Giovana Larregui López, Sara Thomas

Redshirt freshman running back MJ Flowers earned FCS Freshman All-American honors. (File)

The male Panther of the semester is going to MJ Flowers from the football team.

The redshirt freshman running back from Cincinnati, OH rushed for 854 yards and had 1,046 all-purpose yards.

Both are the most in a season since 2016 when Devin Church ran for 1,066 yards and had 1,526 all-purpose yards.

Flowers’ 854 rushing yards are second among Football Champion Subdivision freshman running backs.

Flowers also recorded four rushing touchdowns in a game against Tennessee State this season.

The last time a Panther had four rushing touchdowns in a game was J.R Taylor against Florida Atlantic University in 2002.

Flowers earned Big South-OVC Offensive Freshman of the Year and first-team All-Big South-OVC.

Flowers is also an FCS Freshman All-American and a finalist for the Jerry Rice FCS Freshman of the Year Award.

Senior outside hitter Giovana Larregui López (15) earned Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year for the second year in a row. (File)

The female Panther of the semester is going to Giovana Larregui López from the volleyball team.

The senior outside hitter from Carolina, Puerto Rico was named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

Larregui López ended the 2023 season with 468 kills, 67 services aces, 37 blocks and 319 digs. Larregui López also finished the 28-5 season with a total of 556.5 points.

Here are Larregui López’s 2023 season highs:

  • Kills: 26 (Oct. 21 at Tennessee Tech)
  • Assists: 3 (Sept. 9 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
  • Points: 29.5 (Sept. 18 vs Southern Indiana)
  • Aces: 7 (Sept. 2 at Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis)
  • Digs: 22 (Oct. 28 vs Southeast Missouri State)
  • Total Blocks: 5 (Oct. 13 vs Lindenwood)

Larregui López was also named as an All-OVC First Team player.

Head Coach Sara Thomas was able to improve Eastern volleyball from 16-16 the previous season to 28-5 in the 2023 season. (File)

The coach of the semester is going to Sara Thomas from the volleyball team.

As the 13th Head Coach for the Panthers, Thomas went from a 16-16 overall record in 2022 to a 28-5 overall record in 2023.

Thomas coached the Panthers to record 15 3-0 wins this season.

Thomas coached the Panthers to win the OVC regular season title and the OVC Tournament. With the tournament win, the Panthers clinched a spot in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.

The last time the Panthers were selected for the NCAA Tournament was in 2001.

Thomas coached OVC Player of the Year Larregui López along with sophomore setter Catalina Rochaix, who was named OVC Setter of the Year after the regular 2023 season.

Along with Larregui López and Rochaix, Thomas coached two other All-OVC First Team players: senior libero/defensive specialist Christina Martinez Mundo and graduate right side hitter Natalie Mitchem.

Thomas was also named OVC Coach of the Year at the end of the 2023 regular season.

The sports staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [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.
Luther Yoder, Assistant Sports Editor
Luther Yoder is a sophomore journalism major. This is his first year at The News.
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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