Eagles win first set, but struggle to find rhythm in subsequent play
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team tallied a season-high 10 blocks, but it was not enough to thwart the Cal Poly attack, as the Mustangs defeated EWU 3-1 on Friday (Sept. 10) at the Nike Cougar Challenge Tournament in Pullman, Wash. Eastern falls to 1-7 on the season, while Cal Poly, who was receiving votes in the latest AVCA Top 25 poll, improved its overall record to 5-3.
Cal Poly had three players earn double-digit kills, as well as three players with 10 or more digs. Eastern committed only two more errors on offense than the Mustangs, but Cal Poly was able to tally 56 kills, compared to 42 for the Eagles. Sophomore Shelby Puckett recorded her second double-double of the season, as the Latah, Wash., native had 13 kills and 11 digs. Redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier also earned her second double-double of the year with a season-high 22 assists and 10 digs.
Senior Jacque Brown contributed eight kills and 10 digs, while junior Chenoa Rossi-Childress recorded six kills on 12 errorless attacks for a team-leading .500 attack percentage. Rossi-Chidress also led all players at the net with six blocks.
In the first set, Eastern hit an impressive .323 clip, while holding the Mustangs to a .182 attack percentage. The Eagles also recorded three service aces and three blocks. Eastern opened up a 21-16 lead after Cal Poly committed three unforced errors, followed by two commanding kills by the Eagles, off the hands of Brown and redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright. Cal Poly then scored six-consecutive points to earn a slight 22-21 advantage, but Eastern was able to answer when junior Amy VanderWel came off the bench and served up two quick points for the Red and White. Senior Chenoa Coviare put the match away for EWU when she slammed home an attack off the quick set from Niemeier.
Eastern was not able to take advantage of the momentum from the win in the first set, as the Mustangs scored six of the first seven points in the second. The Eagles pulled within one at 11-10, but got caught in a sticky rotation that allowed Cal Poly’s Lauren Law to rattle off five-straight points from behind the service line. The Mustangs took the second set 25-17.
The third and fourth sets played out in similar fashion, as the Eagles found themselves chasing after falling behind early to the Mustangs.
“The girls were trying hard to figure things out today,” said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. “But couldn’t make the proper adjustments when we needed, and thus, started playing defensively. We are lacking cohesion in the lineup right now, which makes us play with little confidence. A lot of responsibility lies with us, as coaches, to figure out a better system that fosters continuity. There are moments in every set when we look really strong, but we need to train better so that we can play consistently with whoever we have on the court.”
“It has been a tough three weeks emotionally, as we are battling injury and fighting hard on the court, but not getting rewarded. I think we need to tweak a few things in practice, and that will hopefully lead to success as the conference season begins. We have a strong core and good group of athletes, who, collectively, are not intimidated by the obstacles we have and may face down the road. We just need to do what is necessary to continue the tradition of success in this program.”
The Eagles will play their final match of the weekend tonight (Sept. 10) at 7 p.m., when they take on the Idaho Vandals at the Memorial Gym in Moscow, Idaho.