Eastern picks up 100 digs, but offensive miscues plague Eagles down the stretch
The Eastern Washington University volleyball dropped a five-set heartbreaker (26-28, 17-25, 25-19, 25-15, 15-7) to the Vikings of Portland State on Saturday (Nov. 6) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles had a two-set lead on the Vikings at the break, but PSU rallied behind a stellar defensive effort to take the final three matches and improve its conference record to 11-2. The Eagles fall to 7-16 on the season and 6-7 in Big Sky action.
"This was a very emotional loss for the team," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "Despite the outcome, I am proud of the girls. It's not a matter of battling for us; it is about executing a little better on offense. There were a lot of positive things we can take from that game, but we just didn't get it done in the end. Their libero also went nuts in the fourth and the fifth game. She dug a million balls."
Portland State recorded 13 of its 15 total blocks in final three sets, while also picking up 61 of its 90 digs. After hitting .275 in the first two sets, Eastern managed to record only 26 kills on 118 attempts in sets three, four and five for a .025 efficiency to close out the match.
In addition to its defensive surge, Portland State also hit at a .221 clip in the final three sets. The Eagles were without their leading blocker and most efficient hitter, Chenoa Coviare, as the senior went down with an injury in the first play of the match.
"It was tough not having Chenoa because she is someone we can count on to get blocks," said Kydd. "But Chenoa Rossi-Childress stepped in earlier than she was expecting and did a pretty good job for us."
Rossi-Childress ended the night with a career-high nine kills, while also adding four blocks.
It looked as though Eastern would get a sweep when it held a 19-18 advantage late in the third set, but a kill from the league's leading hitter, Whitney Phillips, sparked a 7-0 run for the Vikings to close out the set. The shift in momentum proved too detrimental for the Eagles to overcome, as the home team dropped the fourth set 25-15 on a -.024 attack percentage, and then fell in the fifth 15-7.
Redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright led the Eagles on offense with a career-high 13 kills, while sophomore Shelby Puckett chipped in 12. Seniors Allison Reinstein and Jacque Brown contributed seven kills apiece, while Reinstein also recorded a season-high and team-leading nine blocks.
Junior libero Lindsey Petroni picked up 26 digs for EWU, which is her second-straight 20+ dig performance, and the sixth of the season. Both of Eastern's setters had career nights on defense, as Lindsey Niemeier tallied 17 and Laney Brown had 14.
"Lindsey [Petroni] played really well on defense -- there were a lot of plays were she was scrambling and flying around to pick up balls," said Kydd. "It's hard for me to find fault in a team that battles like that."
As a team, the Eagles collected 100 total digs, marking the second match in a row with triple digits in that defensive category.
The Eagles will hit the road for its next two matches, as it takes on the No.1 team in league in Northern Colorado on Thursday (Nov. 11) and then travels to Flagstaff to play the Lumberjacks on Saturday (Nov. 13).