Eagles suffer set back to host school Seattle; No. 8 Washington still to come
Despite a career day for sophomore Shelby Puckett, the Eastern Washington University Eagles fell in five sets (25-18, 18-25, 25-13, 17-25, 15-13) to the Redhawks of Seattle University on Saturday (Aug. 28) at The Invitational at Seattle, Wash.
Not only was Puckett a force on the offensive end, recording a team-leading and career-high 21 kills, but she was also the top defensive performer for the Eagles, as she picked up 19 total digs for her second career high of the day. The sophomore from Latah, Wash., was also the only player on either team to hit over .400 percent, as she only had four errors in her 41 attempts.
The fifth and final set got off to a rocky start for the Eagles, as they found themselves facing an early 8-3 deficit. But EWU kept its composure and began to chip away at the Seattle lead. Puckett earned four of Eastern’s next seven points, while a dramatic kill from Chenoa Coviare finally knotted the score at 13-13. On the next play, Seattle’s Kelly Biette found a hole in the Eagle defense, giving the Redhawks a 14-13 advantage. The final point was a was a nail-biting rally, but a tight ball at the net allowed SU’s Biette and Janet Beckerman to block the Eagle attack and as a result, take the match.
“I was really encouraged to see our girls come back from being down 8-3 in the fifth set to tie the game,” said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. “In matches like that, it always comes down to just one or two plays, and unfortunately, we were a little tentative in that moment and let it slip away. We need to play with more confidence and be more assertive with the passes and serves, but I am confident that will come as we have more and more experience in those situations.”
The Eagles looked as though they would roll to victory after dominating the Redhawks in the third set, 25-13. The team as a whole recorded a .400 hitting percentage (13-1-30), while also tallying 20 digs, which was the best defensive performance turned in by either team in each of the five sets. Sophomore setter Laney Brown had ten pickups, while freshman Tyler Calles came off the bench to contribute three impressive digs.
Seattle was able to take an early lead in the fourth set, thanks in large part to the offensive firepower of junior Cristin Richards, who rattled off three-consecutive kills to put the Redhawks up 14-8. Seattle never looked back, taking the match 25-17.
The Eagles will conclude their tournament play tonight when they take on No. 8 Washington at 7 p.m. at the Hec-Edmunson Pavilion on the campus of UW.