Lauren Snyder, center, bumps the ball to Autumn Harms, right, during Eastern’s opening night OVC win over Tennessee Tech. (Sonya Johnson)

By Chris McGee

After opening up Ohio Valley Conference play with a win against Tennessee Tech Friday night, the women’s volleyball team looked to continue its hot streak against Jacksonville State. The Colonels know the Gamecocks all too well. Last year, the Gamecocks (6-7, 1-1) were undefeated in conference play with a 16-0 record, but lost to the Colonels.

In the teams first meeting this year, Eastern (2-9, 1-1) started off hot again, winning the first set 30-28, but dropped the final three sets 25-22, 25-16 and 25-19.

Although a couple of players had respectable numbers, overall the Colonels were out-hit and out blocked.

The Gamecocks out-hit the Colonels .269 to .135. On the defensive side, the visitors had more than twice as many blocks as the Colonels, 12-5.

“We came out and competed in game one,” Coach Duncan said. “Game two was close.”

Duncan said the Colonels lost the momentum in game three when Jacksonville ran a long 8-0 rally.

Midway through the third match, Duncan called a timeout.

“We need to penetrate and protect the net,” she said. “We aren’t blocking their side of the net.”

Duncan added that the team missed the play of sophomore Toni Michalski, out because of injury, who she said possessed a strong desire to stand and fight.

“We missed her aggressiveness in the game,” Duncan said.

Saturday’s loss came after an opening Ohio Valley Conference win against the Golden Eagles (2-1, 0-1 OVC).

“We were two different teams,” senior Lauren Snyder said. “In the first game (against Jacksonville), we stepped up. The second game we played pretty good. But then in games three and four, we were less enthusiastic. Also, Jacksonville had better blocking defense.”

With an upcoming stretch of three straight road games, against three of the top five teams in the OVC, the Colonels acknowledged that they’re going to have to bear down to chalk up some wins.

“Each person on the team needs to step up and take a leadership role,” said Lauren Snyder, one of the Colonels outside hitters.

“Each person on the team needs to step up and take a leadership role,” Snyder said.

The Colonels next game is Friday, Sept. 24 on the road against Southeast Missouri.