Down two sets to none, Eastern perseveres to beat the Griz and even conference record at 6-6
Revenge was sweet for the Eastern Washington University volleyball team, as it rallied from two sets down to beat the Grizzlies of Montana in five thrilling sets (24-26, 24-26, 25-22, 25-18, 15-10) in Cheney, Wash. The first time these two squads met in the 2010 season, Montana was the team to survive the marathon match, but on Saturday at Reese Court, Eastern proved its determination and desire with a season-high 73 kills and 108 digs.
"We kept playing and kept fighting tonight, that was the difference," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "We were in the same boat last time we played Montana, and in that game, we sat back and hoped things would go better for us. Tonight, we took control of the match. I give the girls a lot of credit for sticking with it. I always knew we could be this team."
With the win, the Eagles took one step closer to reaching postseason play, as they evened their Big Sky record to 6-6. Montana is still third in the league standings, now with a 6-5 record. Eastern and Montana have now split the regular-season series for three-consecutive years, which each team winning on its home court.
Senior Jacque Brown had a career night from the back row, as the Waterville, Wash., native picked up 24 digs, 12 of which came in the fourth and fifth sets combined. Brown also contributed 13 kills on an impressive .233 hitting efficiency.
"Jacque was very savvy there at the end, coming up with some great kills," said Kydd. "It's a big deal for her to hit above .230."
Kydd also applauded the effort of junior Lindsey Petroni, as she was also key in Eastern's victory with a team-leading 29 digs.
"Lindsey was throwing her body all of the court to get digs tonight, and every time she did, she got up with a smile," said Kydd. "When she plays like that, it really fuels our defense. Our work ethic was what won the game. They just never stopped."
In addition to Brown, redshirt-freshmen Lindsay Niemeier and Ashley Wright registered double-doubles, as Wright had 10 kills and a career-high 12 digs, and Niemeier tallied 31 assists and 11 digs. Niemeier also had a career-high four service aces, one of which came at a pivotal point in the fifth set, which put the Eagles up 13-8. The Eagles ended the match with a 5-0 advantage in service aces.
Junior middle blocker Chenoa Rossi-Childress provided a boost for the Eagles off the bench, as she came up with four kills and four blocks in the final three sets. The Las Vegas, Nev., native was also steady from the service line, as she closed out the third and fourth sets with aggressive, consistent serves.
Sophomore Shelby Puckett led the team on offense with 21 kills, which tied her career high. Seniors Chenoa Coviare and Alysha Cook also eclipsed double-digits, as Coviare tallied 13 kills and Cook chipped in 10.
After the Grizzlies narrowly won the first two sets, 26-24, 26-24, the Eagles figured out a way to disrupt Montana's offense, as it held the visiting team to a bleak .058 efficiency in the final three sets. Eastern also had a 66-48 advantage in assists and 73-55 edge in total kills.
The Eagles will return to conference action next Saturday (Nov. 6) when they take on Portland State at 7 p.m. on Reese Court. The Vikings are currently the No. 2 team in the Big Sky, having only dropped two league matches all season.