Eastern Comes Up Aces, Downs Thunderbirds In Four

Cheney, Wash. – The Eastern Washington women's volleyball team recorded a school-record 16 service aces against visiting Southern Utah Friday, Nov. 8, keeping the Thunderbirds out of system for a majority of the night en route to a four-set win at Reese Court.

The Eagles improve to 9-18 (6-10 Big Sky) with the win while the Thunderbirds fall to 3-24 (2-14 BSC). Set scores for the match were: 25-14, 24-26, 25-11, 25-16.

Eastern's previous high was 15 aces against Charleston Southern on Sept. 3, 2005. It's season high this year was 10 versus Montana State on Sept. 26. 

Junior Kelsey Julian led all players with 15 kills, hitting .353 for the match with just three errors on 34 attempts. Sophomore Allie Schumacher recorded 12 kills while junior Talia Fermantez added 10 kills on just 13 swings.

Senior Lindsay Niemeier finished with 43 assists and a career-best five service aces. She narrowly missed out on her sixth double-double of the year, adding nine digs to her impressive stat line.

Sophomore Allison Doerpinghaus was a defensive force at the net, finishing with a match-high seven blocks to go along with eight kills. Fellow sophomore Ryann Ensrud supported the Eagles' defense from the back row, totaling 21 digs while adding a career-high four service aces.

It did not take long for EWU to get going in the opening frame, turning a 5-5 tie into an 11-6 advantage, punctuated by a kill from Schumacher. The Thunderbirds pulled to within two, 13-11, on a service error, but the Eagles reeled off the next six straight points to open up a 19-11 advantage. Two kills from Julian and one apiece from Fermantez and Schumacher propelled Eastern the rest of way to take the first set.

Southern Utah seemed to find its footing in the second set, taking an 11-7 lead on a kill from Taylor Heine. EWU rallied to tie the match at 16-16 on a set error from the Thunderbirds, but the visitors responded with nice run of play to go up two, 22-20, late in the set. Down 24-21, the Eagles scored three consecutive points to knot the score at 24-24, but a kill from Kylie Schofield and a service ace from Jenna Bradfield evened the match at 1-1 heading into the break.

Determined to assert its superiority, Eastern opened up a 7-0 lead in the third set behind tremendous serving from Niemeier and strong play at the net from Doerpinghaus. SUU would crawl to within four, 10-6, but would get no closer as the Eagles repelled any attacks from the Thunderbirds for the remainder of the set.

Much like the third frame, the fourth set saw EWU jump out to an early lead, going up 6-0 behind a pair of kills from Doerpinghaus. Refusing to go quietly, Southern Utah answered to pull to within three, 13-10, but three straight points for the Eagles quickly dispelled any notion of a comeback. With the visitors within four, 20-16, two kills from Fermantez got the Eagles back on track before a solo block from senior Ashley Wright ended the set and the match.

Eastern hit .283 for the match, committing just 16 errors on 127 attempts. Southern Utah swung at a .092 clip, hitting into 13 EWU blocks.

Schofield paced SUU with 11 kills while Heine added seven.

EWU continues its home stand with matches against Northern Colorado and league-leading North Dakota next weekend. The action begins against the Bears on Friday, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m.

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