Special to the Register
Eastern Kentucky, the No. 6 seed, beat third-seeded Eastern Illinois, 3-2, in the first round of 2013 Ohio Valley Conference Volleyball Tournament on Thursday in Morehead.
The Colonels will play in the OVC Tournament semifinals at 4:30 p.m. today. EKU will face seventh-seeded SIU Edwardsville, who knocked off No. 2 Belmont, 3-1.
The victory is the first in the conference tournament for EKU since beating Southeast Missouri, 3-0, on Nov. 19, 2005. The Colonels had lost five straight tournament matches.
EKU won by scores of 25-18, 23-25, 25-22, 24-26 and 15-8.
Ashley Edmond led EKU (18-15) with 19 kills. She made only four errors in 46 attempts for a .326 attack percentage. She also had 24 digs and four service aces.
Alexis Plagens had 15 kills and seven aces. Rachel Vick added 14 kills and a .333 attack percentage. Dena Ott posted a match-high 35 digs.
EKU used a 10-2 run to pull away in the first set. Edmond got it started and broke an 11-11 tie with a kill. Plagens ended the run with a kill for a 21-13 lead. Vick's kill finished off the first set and staked the Colonels to a 1-0 lead.
After the Panthers tied the match 1-1, EKU never trailed in the third set on its way to a 2-1 lead. A kill by Ally Peters finished off a 25-22 win in the set. The two teams were tied 24-24 late in the fourth set before EIU staved off elimination with a kill by Stephanie Arnold and an EKU attack error.
Eastern Illinois scored the first point of the decisive fifth set, but the Colonels rolled off five straight. A kill by Edmond made it 7-3 and an ace from the senior pushed the margin to 10-5. Vick put the match away with a kill for a 15-8 victory in the fifth.
EKU had seven fewer kills and four fewer blocks, but the Colonels served up 17 aces compared to only two for the Panthers.
Reynae Hutchinson had a match-best 21 kills for Eastern Illinois (18-12). Stephanie Wallace contributed 30 digs.
It was a tough day for favorites in the tournament as the number two (Belmont), three (Eastern Illinois) and four (SEMO) seeds were all knocked out of the tournament by lower seeded teams.