Eagles Pushed To Five, Rally To Beat Montana State

Eastern wins five-set thriller after failing to capitalize on chances in fourth frame

The Eastern Washington women's volleyball team was stretched to five sets by a feisty Montana State squad but rallied to beat the visiting Bobcats Thursday, Sept. 26, in a Big Sky counter at Reese Court.

The Eagles improve to 5-9 overall and 2-1 in league play with the win while MSU drops to 2-12 (0-3 BSC). Set scores for the match were: 25-22, 20-25, 25-18, 24-26, 15-12.

Senior setter Lindsay Niemeier tallied her third double-double of the year with a 30-assists, 12-digs performance. She added four kills on seven attempts and a pair of blocks and service aces.

Sophomore Allie Schumacher paced EWU with 18 kills, hitting .325 (18-5-40) for the match. She added seven digs and a match-high five service aces. Junior Melissa Waelter nearly missed out on her second career double-double, registering nine kills and nine digs.

Sophomore Allison Doerpinghaus had a huge performance at the net, recording nine blocks, including three in the decisive fifth set. Junior Emily Sarff came off the bench to tally a career-best 10 digs.

Eastern jumped out to an early lead in the first set, using a service ace from senior Ashley Wright and a kill from Doerpinghaus to go up 8-4. The Bobcats responded with a 10-4 run punctuated by a service ace from Loni Kreun to take a 14-12 lead midway through the set. A kill from Waelter put the Eagles' back in front, 17-16, and they would reel off six of the next eight points to open up a 23-18 advantage. The visitors clawed back to within two, 24-22, on another service ace, but Doerpinghaus put away a pass from Schumacher to give EWU the first set.

Montana State rallied with a strong performance in the second set, erasing an early Eastern lead to go up by three, 10-7, on an attack error from Schumacher. The Eagles tied the match at 14-14 behind a kill from sophomore Kellen Barfield, but the Bobcats opened up a four-point lead, 18-14, forcing EWU to call its first timeout of the set. A kill from Wright brought Eastern to within two, 20-18, but the visitors finished the frame scoring five of the final seven points to even the match at one set apiece. 

The third set was a back-and-forth affair early as neither team was able to gain any separation. A kill from Schumacher ignited a 4-0 run that gave the Eagles a 12-9 lead midway through the frame, but MSU battled back to tie the score at 12-12 on a kill from Kennadie Clute. Eastern turned it on from there, however, reeling off five of the next six points, opening up a four-point lead it would not relinquish. Kills from Schumacher, junior Talia Fermantez and Waelter cemented the set win in impressive fashion.

EWU looked on the way to an easy win in the fourth set, opening up a seven-point lead on a bad set from Nicole Baker. An MSU attack error gave the Eagles a 22-14 advantage late in the frame, but the Bobcats refused to go quietly, using an attack error from Doerpinghaus to pull back to within two, 23-21. Schumacher ended the visitors' run with a kill from Niemeier, but Eastern was unable to take advantage of the serve as a kill from Clute gave Montana State possession down two. After an attack error from the Eagles, Baker proceeded to put away three consecutive service aces, forcing a surprising fifth set.

Frustrated with throwing away its lead in the previous frame, Eastern raced out to a quick 8-1 lead, punctuated by a block from Wright and Doerpinghaus. The Bobcats were undaunted, however, answering with an 9-4 run to cut EWU's lead to two, 12-10. A kill from Waelter stopped MSU's run, and Schumacher sealed the victory with back-to-back kills to win the match.

Clute led all players with 19 kills while Kreun added 12. They both notched double-doubles as the pair each recorded 11 digs.

Eastern hit .193 for the contest while MSU hit just .107.

The Eagles recorded 14 blocks to Montana State's 6.5, and put away 10 services aces to the Bobcats' seven.

EWU continues its home stand when Montana comes to Reese Court Saturday, Sept. 28. The match is set for 6 p.m.

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