Eastern can't close out match after leading Wildcats 2-0 at the break
Despite a two-set lead, which included a lopsided 25-11 victory in the second, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team could not come up with its first road win of the conference season, as it fell in five sets (23-25, 11-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-12) to Weber State on Friday (Oct. 22).
With the 3-2 upset, the Wildcats earned their first Big Sky victory of the season, while also snapping a six-match losing skid to Eastern. Prior to Friday night, the Eagles had not dropped a match to Weber State since the 2007 season. Eastern's winning streak in games played in Ogden dated back even further, as the team had not lost in Swenson Gym since Sept. 22, 2005.
The Eagles fall to 4-15 on the year and 3-6 in the conference, while Weber State improves to 3-19 overall and 1-8 in the Big Sky.
Sophomore Shelby Puckett led the Eagles in the loss with 12 kills and only five errors in her 21 attempts. She also contributed four blocks, which tied her season high mark. Senior Chenoa Coviare also tallied double-digit kills, as she chipped in 10. For the fifth game in a row and 13th time this season, Coviare led team in blocks with seven total. Seniors Jacque Brown and Alysha Cook had eight kills apiece, as did redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright. Wright also picked up a career-high 10 digs.
Sophomore setter Laney Brown earned her second double-double of the season, as she had 22 assists and a team-leading 12 digs. She also recorded three service aces, all of which came in the second set. Her counterpart in Eastern's 6-2 offense, Lindsay Niemeier, had 26 assists and seven digs.
As a team, Eastern recorded more kills, assists, aces and digs than its opponent, and also had fewer offensive errors, but the Wildcats managed to come through in the clutch, as they averaged a .242 attack percentage in the final three sets, compared to .179 for the Eagles.
After a narrow 25-23 victory in the first set, Eastern rolled the Wildcats in the second with a 25-11 decision. It looked as though Eastern would get the sweep after their dominating performance in the second, but Weber State found some confidence after edging EWU in the tightly-contested third set. The Wildcats captured the 25-22 victory after 15 ties and seven lead changes.
"After the third game, they [Weber State] had some hope," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "And hope can be a dangerous thing when playing a team who has not won a conference game and is on their home court. Their outside hitter [Bethany Wray] also got into a rhythm and we couldn't find a way to stop her."
Wray led all players in the match with 16 kills, while also tying her career-high in blocks with seven. The Wildcats had two other players eclipse double digits, as Carissa Noble and Elli Graff chipped in 13 and 12 kills, respectively.
The Eagles will continue their two-game road swing on Saturday (Oct. 23) when they face Idaho State at Reed Gym in Pocatello, Idaho. The Bengals are coming off a big 3-1 upset of Portland State.