Eastern Shows Fight, Falls At Big Sky Unbeaten North Dakota

Eastern turned in strong performances in the final two sets but could not overcome North Dakota's stellar hitting performance

Grand Forks, N.D. – Facing the only remaining undefeated team in the Big Sky, the Eastern Washington women's volleyball team fell in straight sets to North Dakota Thursday, Oct. 10, in a league counter at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Losing consecutive matches for the first time in nearly a month, the Eagles fall to 6-12 (3-4 BSC) while UND keeps its winning streak alive, improving to 12-7 (7-0 BSC) with the win. Set scores for the match were: 15-25, 22-25, 21-25.

Junior Talia Fermantez and senior Lindsay Niemeier each tallied a team-best seven kills. EWU's starting setter, Niemeier also recorded 21 assists. Senior Ashley Wright added six kills.

Sophomore Ryann Ensrud led all players with 17 digs while Fermantez and Wright notched two blocks apiece.

Eastern was without its head coach, Wade Benson, who was ruled too ill to fly earlier in the week.

Down six midway through the first set, the Eagles used two kills from Wright and a third from Fermantez to pull back to within two, 14-12. A kill from Niemeier kept Eastern close, 15-13, but North Dakota turned it on late, ripping off eight of the next nine points to open up a 23-14 lead. A kill from sophomore Allison Doerpinghaus momentarily stopped the run but UND finished off the set with back-to-back points.

North Dakota raced out to a 6-1 lead early in the second set only to see the Eagles battle back to within two, 8-6, on an attack error from UND. The hosts responded with another run to open up a seven-point lead, 17-10, midway through the frame, but kills from Fermantez and Niemeier brought EWU back to within four, 18-14. North Dakota would regain a seven-point margin, 24-17, only to see EWU score five straight points, staving off set point each time. Lexi Robinson was finally able to stop Eastern's run, claiming the second set for UND.

The Eagles continued to fight out of the break, turning a three-point deficit into a 10-8 lead behind back-to-back service aces from Ensrud. North Dakota would answer with three straight points to regain the lead, but the score remained close throughout. A service ace from sophomore Kellen Barfield, coupled with a kill from Fermantez, kept EWU within striking distance, 18-17. Each time UND seemed poised to pull away, the Eagles answered to remain within one. A kill from Ronni Munkeby gave the hosts a 23-21 lead and the serve, ending the match with back-to-back points.

Munkeby led all players with 17 kills on 20 swings, committing just one error. Lisa Parlich added 10 kills as North Dakota hit .354 on the night compared to Eastern's hitting percentage of .117.

Eastern will play its fourth straight road game this Saturday, Oct. 12, taking on Northern Colorado. The Eagles return home for a pair of league matches next weekend, welcoming Weber State and Idaho State to Reese Court.

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