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EWU volleyball splits a pair on the road

Volleyball+prepares+before+a+recent+match.+Photo+courtesy+of+Ron+Swords.
Volleyball prepares before a recent match. Photo courtesy of Ron Swords.

Volleyball prepares before a recent match. Photo courtesy of Ron Swords.

Volleyball prepares before a recent match. Photo courtesy of Ron Swords.

By Jeremy Burnham, Staff Reporter

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The EWU women’s volleyball team has had a challenging start to their season. They played nine of their first 11 games on the road, and the numbers got even more lopsided as the Eagles played two more away games on Thursday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct. 7. First, EWU swept Northern Arizona University, 3-0, before losing to Southern Utah University, 3-1.

The Eagles now sit at 3-3 in Big Sky Conference play, and have an overall record of 6-9. They faced  NAU, who entered the match 2-2 and was coming off a straight-set loss to Weber State University.

Before the game, NAU head coach Ken Murphy said that this was an important match.

“We know Eastern is a good opponent and is in the same place as us,” said Murphy. “It’s important that we move ahead of them.”

EWU  started the first set  with three straight points. After an error by NAU, senior outside hitter Ashley Seiler had two straight kills for the Eagles. However, the lead didn’t last, as NAU answered with their own three-point  streak. The rest of the first set went back and forth until EWU reached set point at 24-23. Freshman outside hitter MaKenna Davis won the set for the Eagles with a kill.

The Eagles led throughout most of the second set, including a 22-15 advantage, before NAU stepped it up. With some good serves, along with a few EWU mistakes, NAU closed the gap to 23-21. But they  wouldn’t get closer than that. Each team traded scores after that, and EWU closed it out 25-22.

The third  set started off neck and neck. However, with her team clinging to an  8-7 lead, Seiler had her 12th kill of the match sparking a run by the Eagles. When EWU went up 14-9, NAU coach Murphy called a timeout in an attempt to stop the bleeding. It didn’t help, so he called another timeout with the score 18-11. NAU answered by tying the game at 22, but EWU  closed it out 25-23 to complete the sweep.

EWU head coach Michael King was pleased with how his team came together on the road.

“Our senior leadership and our underclassmen competed really well tonight,” said King. “I am proud of how everyone contributed to tonight’s win. We needed everyone tonight and they each played their role with passion and character.”

EWU then headed to Utah for a Saturday match with SUU, who entered the match  0-5 in conference play, and 5-12 overall. SUU got off to a fast start, opening a 13-8 lead. Though EWU was able to close the gap to 19-18, SUU answered by scoring the next four points in a row. SUU was then able to end the set with a service ace by Miranda Canez.

EWU was able to pull ahead in the second set. When SUU had a chance to knot the score  at 19, they committed their sixth service error of the match. EWU took the set 25-19.

While EWU opened the third  set with a 4-0 run, the rest of the set was all SUU. SUU took their first lead at 8-7, and held it for the rest of set, eventually winning 25-18.

Despite moving late in the fourth set, the Eagles were unable to win it. SUU closed the match out with a 26-24 win.

Senior middle blocker Macail Evans led SUU with 17 kills, while freshman outside hitter Elisa Lago had 18 digs. For EWU, Seiler had 17 kills and freshman libero Catelyn Linke had 22 digs.

The Eagles return to Reese Court on Thursday, Oct. 12, as they take on Idaho State University at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

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EWU volleyball splits a pair on the road