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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Number seven seeded EIU upset the number two seeded SIUE in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on Thursday. The Panthers beat the Cougars winning a four-set match 3-1 (25-27, 21-25, 19-25 and 25-20).

The Panther win marks the eighth time in EIU history that the team has reached the semi-finals, and the first time since 2014.

After SIUE rallied from being down four to win the first set, EIU was able to take control and took the next three sets to win the match and advance to the second round. With the win EIU is set to face the number three seed, Murray State, on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

The Panthers hit for their best average in the second set hitting a .205 average. Leading the Panthers in kills with 13 in the match was Allie Hueston. Also helping out offensively was Gina Furlin who led EIU in assists with 22. Taylor Smith, a Mattoon graduate, was able to help the Panthers on both ends of the court grabbing her thirteenth double-double of the season finishing with 16 assists and 20 digs. Defensively leading the Panthers were Anne Hughes who picked up a team-high 21 digs and Maggie Runge who claimed a team-high six blocks.

SIUE won the first set which featured a set-high eight tie scores and four lead changes as the two teams constantly exchanged points throughout the set. The Panthers jumped out to a 4-0 run off a Smith kill midway through the set. However, SIUE fired back with the help of set leader Jackie Scott who led the Cougars with five kills in the set.

Smith and Hueston earn OVC first team honors

CLARKSVILLE, TENN.   As voted on by the head volleyball coaches and the sport information directors of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Eastern Illinois University volleyball team landed a pair of honorees for the 2017 All-OVC First Team. Allie Hueston, a senior middle hitter, and Mattoon graduate Taylor Smith, a junior outside hitter/settter were selected as representatives of the all-conference first team.

Hueston ended the conference schedule placing in the top-ten hitting mark in OVC games as she posted a .324 hitting percentage. She totaled 224 kills for the Panthers as she finished with a 2.55 kill per set average. Hueston led the Panther defense at the net as she earned a team-high 106 blocks for a 1.20 block per set ratio. She added 43 digs, 12 aces, and three assists to her point's total of 293.5.
 
Smith was an impact player for the Panthers and led the OVC with nine triple-doubles overall, six of which occurred in conference games. She added twelve double-doubles to her resume for the year as well. Smith finished with the third-most kills for the Panthers in conference games with 253, while hitting at a .247 average. She led the Panthers in assists with 627 for a 5.97 assist per set rate. Her 297 digs and 2.83 digs per set numbers were second most on the team. She added some help at the net defensively for the Panthers as she accumulated 98 total blocks for a 0.93 block per set average. She added 21 aces to earn a team-high 324.0 points.

 EIU Men's Basketball Signs NY Guard

CHARLESTON -- Eastern Illinois men’s basketball coach Jay Spoonhour announced the signing of Kashawn Charles to a National Letter of Intent as the NCAA early signing period came to close earlier this week.

Charles is a 6’1 shooting guard playing his first season at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas.  He is to have three years of eligibility remaining at EIU. Charles played at Wyandanch High School in Long Island, New York where he was named the Small School Player of the Year and first team All-State after averaging 30.3 points per game. He led his team to an 18-5 record scoring 34 points in both the County Semifinals and Finals. His season high was 48 points against Greenport.

A three-time All-Conference selection he finished his prep career with more than 2,000 career points being named the MVP of Team Long Island in a post-season All-Star contest.  This season at Labette CC he is averaging 17 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.

Eastern Illinois Women’s Squad Earn OVC Team Sportsmanship Awards for Cross Country

BRENTWOOD, TENN. – The Ohio Valley Conference announced that the Eastern Illinois University women’s team are the recipients of the 2017-18 Team Sportsmanship Awards for cross country.

Voted on by the student-athletes and coaches of the respective sports, the team awards are bestowed upon the Conference squads deemed to have best exhibited the standards of sportsmanship and ethical behavior as outlined by the OVC and NCAA. Included in the areas for evaluation are the conduct of student-athletes, coaches, staff and administrators and fans.

“Without sportsmanship there are truly no meaningful victories,” said Beth DeBauche, OVC Commissioner. “The recipients of the OVC Team Sportsmanship awards should accept this award with great pride for their fellow competitors have made it clear their teams exemplify the best in intercollegiate athletics. In receiving this prestigious honor other competitors are saying these student-athletes compete with class, respect their opponents and value fair play. That is quite a compliment as those are all traits that will lead to true victories throughout the course of life.”

The 2017-18 school year marks the 13th year the team sportsmanship honors have been awarded.

The Eastern Illinois women’s team, who hosted the OVC championship was third.

The OVC Sportsmanship Award is presented annually to the member institution selected by its peers to have best exhibited the standards of sportsmanship and ethical behavior as outlined by the OVC and NCAA.

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Sports writer

Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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