Eastern's defense falters in road test against defending Big Sky regular-season champs
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team had a difficult time shutting down the Portland State offense on the road, as the home-team rolled to a 3-0 victory (25-15, 25-16, 25-17) on Saturday (Oct. 15) in Portland, Ore.
With the loss, EWU falls to 8-11 on the season and 4-4 in Big Sky Conference action, while the Vikings improve to 9-11 and 5-3 in league play. Eastern is now tied for fifth in the Big Sky standings.
In its first 18 matches of the season, Eastern had not allowed an opponent to hit above .280, but on Saturday in the Rose City, the Vikings unleashed, recording a .333 attack percentage against the visiting Eags. Portland State tallied 45 kills and only eight errors in 111 attempts. Eastern had 32 kills on 110 total swings.
In the first set, EWU found itself in a hole early, as the Vikings jumped out to 10-3 lead. The Eagles tallied three-straight kills to pull within four at 14-10, but Portland State then answered with a barrage of its own and took the set handily, 25-15.
In sets two and three, Eastern hung with the Viks for a while, but a few small runs by the home team put EWU in a compromising position.
In the second frame, EWU trailed by just one point at 14-13, but Portland State recorded seven kills over the next nine serves to eventually win the set 25-16. In the third stanza, Eastern was within striking distance again at 16-15, but five unforced errors, coupled with four Viking kills allowed Portland State to take the match with a 25-17 decision in the third.
As a team, Eastern recorded only three blocks against PSU, which was the fewest of the season for EWU. Portland State had nine total team blocks.
Eastern will next travel to Idaho State and Weber State to kick off the second half of the Big Sky season. EWU plays ISU on Friday (Oct. 21) in Pocatello, followed by Weber State on Saturday (Oct. 22) in Ogden. Eastern beat both teams in the first meeting of the year.