By Brandon Roberts/Sports writer
Eastern’s volleyball team improved to 13-3 overall and 4-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference with a pair of wins over the weekend.The team’s 3-0 win over Austin Peay on Friday was the fourth consecutive win for the Colonels squad.
“We are confident,” coach Lori Duncan said. “We haven’t lost a game since the middle of September.”
In the win over APSU, Eastern was paced by the play of junior middle blocker Liz Guard, who had a stellar performance. Guard’s .769 hitting percentage is her career-high and the highest in the OVC this season. Her total of 20 kills marked her third 20-or-more kill performance this season. Guard’s performance this past weekend earned her OVC player of the week honors.
Senior outside hitter Lesley Aldridge added a 16-kill effort and now owns ninth place on Eastern’s all-time list with 1,108.
“I am not surprised at her leadership,” Duncan said.
Freshman defensive specialist Brittany Nobilio had a match-high 23 digs in the effort.
Saturday saw Eastern win its fifth-straight match and the its fourth in the OVC with yet another 3-0 win, this time over the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech.
“I really didn’t expect us to dominate this early,” Duncan said.
The 17-kill effort from Aldridge moved her into sole possession of eighth place on the school’s all-time list.
Guard had yet another great performance registering 12 hits and a match-high four blocks.
“This team is extremely well-balanced,” Duncan said.
Nobilio led the Colonels with 15 digs, and sophomore Jessica Sabath added 14 in the winning effort.
Eastern accumulated 10 blocks as a team. Sophomores Kasha Brozek, Kelly Jennings and Denise Grundhoefer had two, as did freshman Shelly George.
Tennessee Tech falls to 5-9 overall and 1-3 in the OVC.
Eastern started the weekend ranked second in the nation with almost 21 digs per game, and Nobilio tops the OVC in the digs category.
“As a freshman, she has picked up on our system and excelled,” Duncan said of Nobilio.
The Colonels will host Jacksonville State this Friday, and the players are excited.
“We need people at the game,” said red-shirt sophomore Vannessa Jones. “It’s going to be head-to-head combat.”
Confidence is high among the Colonels, and Brozek seems like she knows why.
“We’re a great team,” Brozek said. “I think we’ll win the OVC.”
The Colonels expect the game to be a tough one, but they are ready. JSU will roll into Richmond riding an 11-game win streak. They are also undefeated in the OVC but have yet to play a conference match on the road. This is the first meeting of undefeated OVC teams this season.
Eastern is an elite group in the OVC being one of only three undefeated teams; JSU and Eastern Illinois are the other two.
We’re hoping we can get a good crowd,” Duncan said. “This is a big one for us.”
Game time is 7 p.m.
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