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’s memorable 2023 season

Head+Volleyball+Coach+Sara+Thomas+huddles+with+the+team+during+the+third+and+last+set+of+the+Panthers+first+NCAA+tournament+appearance+since+2001.+The+Panthers+season+score+ends+at+28-5.
Rob Le Cates
Head Volleyball Coach Sara Thomas huddles with the team during the third and last set of the Panther’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001. The Panther’s season score ends at 28-5.

Despite the loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament against the Marquette Golden Eagles, the Panthers had a historic 2023 season.

Eastern won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship outright for the first time in 22 years.

This season, Eastern started 10-0, securing wins over Louisiana Monroe, Valparaiso, Akron, Oral Roberts, UC Riverside, IUPUI, Arkansas State, Alabama A&M, Southern Illinois, and Missouri.

The Panthers also recorded a total of 15 wins with the final score of 3-0.

The Panthers swept teams such as the Mizzou Tigers, the Little Rock Trojans, the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles and the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks.

Eastern went on to end their season by winning 28 games, the most in program history since 1982.

Eastern also finished first in the OVC for the first time since the 1998 season.

Head Volleyball Coach Sara Thomas is the first head coach in EIU Volleyball program history to win the OVC regular season championship and the OVC Tournament championship. (File)

This season, Panthers’ Head Coach Sara Thomas won her first OVC championship.

Thomas is the first head coach in program history to win both the OVC regular season and tournament championships.

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

Along with Thomas, multiple Panthers had dominant seasons.

Senior outside hitter, Giovana Larregui López won her second straight OVC Player Of The Year award as she is now back-to-back OVC Player of the Year.

Larregui López was also selected as a First Team All-OVC player. Larregui López also finished 44th in the country in kills per set and 19th in the country in points.

Larregui López also won Offensive Player Of The Week two times and won Student Athlete Of The Week.

Senior libero/defensive specialist Christina Martinez Mundo was also selected as a First Team All-OVC player.

At the end of the OVC Tournament, Martinez Mundo won the OVC Tournament Most Valuable Player award.

She also reached 1,500 career digs as Martinez Mundo finished fifth in the country in total digs.

Martinez Mundo is currently in seventh place in program history in digs.

Sophomore setter Catalina Rochaix won OVC Setter Of The Year.

Rochaix was also selected as a First Team All-OVC player and is ninth in program history in career assists with 2,027 assists.

Rochaix also finished seventh in the country in assists per set with 11.03 assists per set.

Graduate outside hitter Natalie Mitchem was selected as a First Team All-OVC player, and she finished fifth in the OVC for kills. 

Cameron Thomas can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
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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