Volleyball team extends win streak

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Article published in the Oct. 6, 2013, issue of The Daily Eastern News.

The Eastern Volleyball team came out ahead of Tennessee State in four sets (25-17, 25-18, 23-25, 25-21) Friday, improving to 3-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference and 9-8 overall.

The Tigers had early leads in the first two sets, but the Panthers came out on top in both. Only in the third set, which saw 14 tied scores and nine lead changes, did the Tigers have any “glimpse of hope,” as Eastern senior Stephanie Arnold said.

Eastern coach Kate Price said the loss in the third set was not all negative, though.

“I think we controlled a lot of the set, so with that, I think it’s a positive,” Price said. “We just need to finish it.”

Arnold said the team’s biggest goal now would be to do what Price said.

“End it right there,” Arnold said. “Don’t even give the glimpse of hope.”

The middle hitter had a career-high .789 hit percentage, ranking the sixth best hitting performance in school history and third highest in current OVC play. Arnold sits atop the OVC charts for overall attack at .430 percent, above Austin Peay at .412 percent.

Arnold trailed senior outside hitter Reynae Hutchinson’s 21 kills with 15 — and no errors.

“It’s nice to see our offense going, and any time one of our kids hits 800, it’s an awesome match,” Price said. “Fifteen kills, zero errors is a pretty awesome statistic.”

On the defensive end, junior outside hitter Kelsey Brooke led the Panthers with 21 digs, followed by sophomore libero Stephanie Wallace with 10. Brooke also slammed two aces against the Tigers.

Sophomore setter Marah Bradbury dominated in assists, racking up 60 of the team’s 65 in the match. She leads the OVC in assists.

Arnold said the win was partially a result of a team meeting earlier in the week.

“We looked each other in the eye and said, ‘Hey, let’s do our goals, let’s fulfill each other’s goals,’ so I think that really helped refocus us,” Arnold said.

The biggest goal, she said, was to work as a more cohesive unit, improving communication and keeping the energy high.

“It was a fun game to play,” Arnold said. “I think I was more tired cheering than I was actually playing.”

The Panthers’ next stops in OVC play are in Kentucky, taking on Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky Friday and Saturday.

“Having a three-game winning streak under your belt is always a huge plus for us,” Arnold said.

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