After coming up empty-handed in four-match home stand, Eagles head back on the road still looking for first win of the season
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team showed some fight against defending Big Sky Champion Northern Colorado, but in the end, the Eagles could night find an answer for the powerful Bears, as they fell 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 28-26) on Friday (Oct. 5) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
With the loss, Eastern drops to 0-19 in the 2012 campaign, while Northern Colorado improves to 13-4 overall and 6-2 in league play.
In the opening set on Friday, Northern Colorado proved why it ranks No. 1 in the league for offensive efficiency. The Bears recorded a .378 attack percentage with 18 kills and just four errors on 37 attempts.
Despite an almost perfect performance by middle blockers Talia Fermantez, Kellen Barfield and Allison Doerpinghaus, the Eagles were held to just .125 hitting in the first. The three middles combined for seven kills with zero errors on 11 attempts, but from the outside, Eastern had just three kills and six errors on 28 total swings.
Early in the second set, Eastern suffered from repeated mental breakdowns, which allowed UNC to take a commanding 21-12 lead. Despite the sizable hole, the Eagles battled and ended up making an impressive run.
“The times when we struggled, we were on another planet,” said EWU head coach Lisa Westlake. “The girls knew their heads were not in it. But when we came back to earth, and actually started thinking about our assignments, we did a good job. There were times we played really well tonight, which just demonstrates we are definitely capable.”
Following a kill by senior Cora Kellerman late in the second set, EWU went on an 8-2 scoring spree. The Eagles saved three set points before Northern Colorado managed to finally put it away, 25-22.
Eastern kept the pressure on in the third, with 13 ties and nine lead changes. Eastern had its chance, serving twice for set point, but two unforced errors on those plays kept the Bears in the game. With Eastern maintaining a narrow 26-25 advantage, UNC sophomore Tambre Haddock delivered three kills in a row to give the Bears a hard-fought 28-26 victory for the match.
Northern Colorado finished with 50 kills, compared to just 32 for EWU, which marked its least productive night offensively thus far in the Big Sky season. The Bears also earned a 58-49 advantage in digs.
Although the team as a whole struggled, sophomore Kelsey Julian had an impressive outing, as she tallied 10 kills on a .375 attack percentage, and had two blocks.
“Kudos to Kelsey for coming in and hitting nearly .400,” said Westlake. “She played great.”
Fermantez finished with seven kills on a .316 clip, and added four digs and a team-high three blocks.
Senior setter Laney Brown notched her fifth double-double of the year with 22 assists and 11 digs. Junior Celeste Crosby had 19 digs, while seniors Cora Kellerman and Shelby Puckett each chipped in four.
After enduring four-straight losses at home, Eastern will head back out on the road to face Weber State (7-11, 1-6 Big Sky) and Idaho State (13-4, 7-1).