September 3, 2011

Eastern Volleyball Falls to Arizona in Three Close Sets

Eagles hold late leads in first and third sets, but communication errors lead to Pac-12 win

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team lost to Arizona in three competitive sets, 26-24, 25-23, 25-23, on Saturday (Sept. 3) at the Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Ariz. The loss dropped the Eagles to a 3-4 overall record, but they certainly put up a fight worth talking about against a team from arguably the best volleyball conference in the nation -- the Pac-12.

In the first and third sets, Eastern was up after 20 points. In the first set, the Eagles had a 24-23 advantage, but due to a service error and a few miscommunication errors, the Wildcats socred three-straight points to take the set.

"We, myself included, made some mistakes," said head coach Miles Kydd. "We made some inopportune subs and just got into difficult situations."

Those miscommunications issues also came into affect during the middle of the third set, allowing Arizona to hold on to win the match.

Despite losing to the Pac-12 team, the Eagles still managed to have a higher clip of .123. The Eagled did a good job containg Arizona's offense, as the Wildcats recorded an .084 attack percentage.

Eastern also picked up 46 digs, which included a team-high 12 from junior Cora Kellerman. The Wildcats had three less at 43.

Senior Chenoa Rossi-Childress had an outstanding game, hitting .545 with seven kills and three blocks. Kydd attributes part of her success to a fine-setting job by sophomore setter Lindsay Niemeier.

"Lindsay did a good job setting the ball where it needed to be," said Kydd. "And Rossi is one of the best athletes on our team. She's able to play at a very high level."

There were 12 lead changes and 20 ties during the match. The third set alone saw nine lead changes.

"You have to give credit to the girls, they played extremely hard," praised Kydd. "Arizona is a Pac-12 team who just received Top 25 votes in last week's poll. We didn't overwhelm them, but we most definitely surprised them. If we get in a situation like this again, we'll be prepared."

Next up for the Eagles is the UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev. -- hometown of Rossi-Childress. They open play against Cal-State Northridge Saturday (Sept. 10).

"Playing good teams like Arizona help us learn how to meet the challenge and raise our level of play," said Kydd. "It showed us if we do things well, there's no reason not to compete with the top teams in the country.

Other teams know they have to watch out for us now."

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