Eastern Clinches Big Sky Tournament Bid Despite 3-1 Loss to Portland State

Senior libero Lindsey Petroni sets school record for most 30-dig matches in a career in four-set loss to Vikings

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team could not get past the Vikings of Portland State on Saturday (Nov. 12) at Reese Court, but the Eagles were able to celebrate a different accomplishment earlier in the day. By virtue of other results around the conference, Eastern clinched a spot in the 2011 Big Sky Conference tournament.

Northern Colorado (12-3), Portland State (11-4) and Sacramento State (9-5) represent the other three teams in this year's tourney. As the regular-season champion in 2010, the Vikings will host the event Nov. 25-26 at the Peter W. Stott Center in Portland, Ore.

The Eagles played two competitive sets against the Vikings on Saturday, but following intermission, the defending Big Sky regular-season and tournament champion ran away with the match.

After hitting just .167 in the first two sets, Portland State recorded a .310 attack percentage in the final two to beat EWU 3-1 (26-28, 25-23, 25-17, 25-11), thus earning its third-straight regular-season sweep of the Eagles.

The first two sets on Saturday featured a combined 21 ties and eight lead changes.

With the scored tied at 14 in the opening frame, freshman Amanda Brown hammered a ball down the middle which sparked a 7-0 run by the home team. But with a 21-14 cushion, the Eagles then gave up nine of the next 11 points, resulting in another 23-23 deadlock.

The two teams traded a couple more points, until junior setter Laney Brown came off the bench and immediately served up an ace to give EWU set point at 27-26. On the next play, Brown set her namesake, Amanda Brown, who finally finished it off with another authoritative kill.

The second set was even more of a back-and-forth affair. After 10 previous ties and five lead changes, the Eagles and Vikings found themselves knotted again at 22-22, but PSU came up with three big blocks in the final six points to pull away with a 25-23 victory.

In sets three and four, the Eagles committed 15 offensive errors and had only 16 kills on 73 total attempts. The Vikings had 28 kills and only five errors on 71 swings. PSU also tallied eight of its 13 total team blocks in the final two sets.

Eastern had three players record double-digit digs in the loss, including senior libero Lindsey Petroni, who led the team with 30. With her 30 pickups on Saturday, the Spokane, Wash., native set the school record for the most 30-dig matches in a career, as she now has six in her tenure.

Sophomore setter Lindsay Niemeier extended her conference-leading double-double mark to 16 with 22 assists and 10 digs. Junior captain Cora Kellerman also registered a double-double, as she finished with 13 kills and 16 digs.

Middle blockers Chenoa Rossi-Childress and Talia Fermantez combined for 16 kills and six blocks. Rossi-Childress had eight kills on a .412 attack percentage, while Fermantez also chipped in eight on a .333 clip.

Eastern now looks ahead to its final regular-season match and Senior Night at Reese Court on Friday (Nov. 12). The Eagles host Sacramento State at 7 p.m.

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