Injury Strikes Again, as Eagles Lose to Portland State, 3-0

Eastern records season-low -.010 attack percentage, after losing its most efficient hitter in the first set

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team was looking for a fresh start and inspiring turnaround in the second half of the 2012 Big Sky season. But right out of the gate, the Eagles suffered another setback.

Eastern lost its 22nd-consecutive match on Thursday (Oct. 18) in Portland, Ore., as the Vikings of Portland State swept EWU for the second time this season, with set scores of 25-16, 25-16, 25-18. But to make matters worse, sophomore middle blocker Talia Fermantez, who has started every match of the 2012 campaign, went down in the first set with an injury to her left ankle. The Honolulu, Hawaii native did not return to the match, and will be reassessed by doctors upon returning to Cheney.

Coming into the match, Fermantez was one of Eastern’s biggest threats offensively, averaging 2.31 kills per set in the Big Sky season on a team-leading. 262 attack percentage. In Eastern's first meeting of the year against PSU, Fermantez led the team with 13 kills on a sizzling .500 clip.

Although just a sophomore, Fermantez is also the most veteran player Eastern has at that position. Redshirt-freshman Kellen Barfield and true freshman Allison Doerphinghaus stepped up to fill the void on Thursday, and while the two rookies had a hand in six of the team’s seven blocks, they had just two kills between them.

As a team, Eastern certainly felt the absence of its most efficient hitter, as the Eagles were held to a conference-season-low -.010 attack percentage. Portland State had 12 blocks, and picked up 54 digs, while the Eagles managed just 23 kills in 105 total attempts.

Eastern did do a good job of controlling Portland State’s No. 1 hitter, Jaklyn Wheeler, who is among the top three in the conference in kills per set and ranks in the top 40 nationally. The 6-foot-0 junior transfer from Oregon hit negative for the first time all season, with just four kills and six errors on 26 attempts against EWU.

On the night, Portland State hit a .177 clip - well below its season average. But the Vikings, who came in with the best opponent hitting percentage in the conference, got it done defensively. With the win, PSU improves to 14-8 on the year and remains tied at the top of the Big Sky standings with a 10-1 league record.

The Eagles, who dropped to 0-11 in conference play, were led on Thursday by freshman Allie Schumacher. The rookie out of Puyallup, Wash., tallied seven kills, seven digs and two service aces. Senior Cora Kellerman chipped in six kills, while sophomore Kelsey Julian added five.

Playing in her third match as libero, senior Shelby Puckett had a team-high 16 digs, as well as six assists and two service aces.

Eastern will return to Reese Court for its next Big Sky matchup against Sacramento State on Monday (Oct. 22) at 7 p.m. The Hornets are 7-13 on the season and 3-7 in Big Sky head-to-heads.

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