- Letters to Editor
By Chris McGee
It’s crunch time for the volleyball team. With two conference games left, the Colonels have a chance to lock up third in the conference standings heading into postseason play.
On Senior Day, Eastern (11-15, 9-7 OVC) finished off their non-conference schedule with a win over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (12-14).
Amanda Fago, Kelsey Rose, Chelsea Lee, Lauren Snyder, Abby O’ Connor and Autumn Harms were honored in a pregame ceremony before playing their final home match.
The Cougars won the first set 26-24. In the second and third sets, Eastern found its winning ways with scores of 25-20 and 25-22. Although the Colonels lost the fourth set, 26-24, they came back strong, winning the last set convincingly, 15-7.
Multiple players contributed to the team’s win. Snyder had 16 kills and O’ Connor totaled 30 digs. Freshman Ashley Edmond finished with 14 kills, three block assists and two aces. Harms added 10 kills of her own.
Also, sophomore Jessica Mueller filled in for starter Robyn Hench, who missed the game due to a family emergency. Mueller had 46 assists, a career-high.
“Each player knew that they would need to step up their game because we weren’t going to have Robyn,” Snyder said.
In the replacement role, things didn’t go so smoothly for Mueller early on.
“I was really giving her the business in the first two sets, telling her that she needed to protect her hitters, and other fundamentals that were coming up short in her game,” Duncan said.
But after some firm coaching, Mueller elevated her play.
“If I had to give out a game ball, it would go to Jessica because she stepped up when her number was called and helped the team.” Duncan said.
A look ahead:
The Colonels will be on the road for their final two games of the regular season. The team plays Murray State Thursday at 8 p.m., and finishes the season against UT Martin, Saturday at 3 p.m.
“The team will have to play some hardcore volleyball,” Duncan said. “The first time that we played Murray State was the first time that they saw Robyn as our setter, so they will be ready this time.”
Duncan added that UT Martin will be a tough game because they have been mathematically eliminated from the Ohio Valley Conference tournament and therefore have nothing to lose.
Edmond was equally candid.
“The only thing that we’re going to do different is just go out and compete and play hard the whole game,” Edmond said.
The Colonels are currently tied with Jacksonville State for third in the conference.
“Out of 10 teams in the conference, eight are competing for a spot in the tournament,” Duncan said. “A win or loss can mean the difference between a third and a fourth seed.”
Duncan added that maintaining the mental focus will be the crux of her message to the team during practice this week.
“This team has shown me what they can do when the motivation is there.