Eagles Take Down Big Sky Leading Bengals, 3-1
Three different Eagles post double-doubles, as Eastern wins 17th consecutive home match against Idaho State
Although the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will not be moving on to the postseason, it is clear this team is leaving everything out on the floor. In its second-to-last match of the year, Eastern downed Big Sky-leading Idaho State, 3-1 (25-16, 24-26, 25-17, 25-13), on Thursday (Nov. 15) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
With the win, EWU upheld a 17-year home winning streak against the Bengals. Eastern has not lost a match to ISU in Cheney since Sept. 23, 1995.
The Eagles improve to 5-25 on the year and 5-14 in Big Sky play, while the Bengals fall to 22-6 overall and 16-3 in league. ISU will take on Portland State Saturday (Nov. 17) in Portland, Ore., in a battle for the Big Sky regular-season title. The winner of the match wins the crown outright, as well as the No. 1 seed in the 2012 Big Sky Conference tournament, held Nov. 23-24 in Greely, Colo.
Eastern will play its final match of the year on Saturday against Weber State in a special Senior Night. Prior to the match, EWU will honor its three seniors, Laney Brown, Cora Kellerman and Shelby Puckett.
As was the case for Eastern in its first eight matches of the 2012 season, Idaho State was forced to play without its staring setter on Thursday in Cheney. Junior Lori Mendenhall, who averages 11.40 assists per set to rank first in the Big Sky and 21st in the nation, was sidelined on Thursday due to injury.
It was certainly a noticeable absence for ISU, but the Eagles took care of business on their side of the court, especially in sets three and four.
Eastern hit .267 on the night with 59 kills and just 16 errors, but most of those miscues came in the second set. After dropping that second set, 26-24, EWU came out in the third with more focus and some definite heat.
The Eagles hammered 32 kills with just six errors in the third and fourth sets for a combined .351 attack percentage. Eastern also stepped it up defensivley, holding ISU to a dismal -.147 clip in the final frame.
“We started playing complacent in the second set. We weren’t working as hard because we knew they were struggling,” said EWU head coach Lisa Westlake. “I told the girls at halftime that we had to pick up our game. We either work hard or go home. We definitely picked it up and played with more intensity after the break.”
Heading into the locker room for intermission, Idaho State’s senior outside hitter Breanne Van Every had notched 11 kills on a .440 clip. In the third and fourth sets, Van Every combined for just six kills with four errors on 23 attempts.
“Idaho State is a good team,” added Westlake. “They have big hitters and great passers, and are still a solid unit even without their setter. Mentally, it was hard for them because they are missing their quarterback, but we still have to work hard.”
Three different Eagles recorded double-doubles in the match, including seniors Laney Brown and Cora Kellerman, which marked the 10th double-double of the season for both players.
Brown finished with 49 assists and 13 digs, while Kellerman led the Eagles offensively with 15 kills and 17 pickups.
Brown also posted a career-high four service aces. As a team, EWU scored nine points from behind the service line - a season-high for the red and white.
Freshman Allie Schumacher posted 12 kills and 13 digs for her fourth double-double of the year.
Junior Ashley Wright was just a couple kills shy of her down double-double, as she finished with an impressive stat line of eight kills, 10 digs, three blocks and two service aces.
“Ashley probably played one of the best all-around matches of her career,” complimented Westlake. “She was blocking and passing and putting balls away. She really did a great job.”
Eastern’s pair of middle hitters, sophomore Talia Fermantez and redshirt-freshman Kellen Barfield, combined for 20 kills on a .395 attack percentage. Fermantez had 12 kills, while Barfield chipped in eight.
Barfield also led the team in blocking with six, including one solo.
Senior Shelby Puckett had her second-consecutive 20+ dig performance, as she finished with 21 pickups to pace Eastern’s back row defense. Puckett has had three 20+ dig outings this year.