CHARLESTON (WCIA) — The game may not have counted, but Eastern Illinois volleyball certainly set the tone before its season even began by beating Illinois in an August exhibition.

It turns out that win over Big Ten competition was a sign of good things to come, as a pair of wins over the weekend has EIU out to a 16-1 start to the season. The one loss was to Missouri, who the Panthers split a two game series with. That makes wins over the SEC, Big Ten, Missouri Valley and more. Now into conference play, the Panthers main goal is continuing their run through the Ohio Valley Conference.

“We just keep the focus on us and that’s what it’s been all season long,” head coach Sara Thomas said. “You know, how can we stay in the moment, keep being prepared and keep that focus 100 percent on the Panthers.”

“I think just waking up with a new start every day and realizing that we still have to fight,” middle blocker Kate Dean said. “Every team’s going to come fighting and we have a target on our backs for working as hard as we have and seeing the success so I think just having a target on our backs makes us work harder every day and gives us that motivation.”

EIU welcomes Lindenwood to Lantz Arena for a two game series on Friday and Saturday.