Eastern's middle blockers shine, as Eagles sweep regular-season series against Weber State
It took the Eastern Washington University volleyball team a minute to settle in at Swenson Gym in Ogden, Utah, but after a rocky first set, the Eagles cruised to a 3-1 victory against Weber State (18-25, 25-13, 25-15, 25-10) on Saturday (Oct. 22).
Eastern (10-11, 6-4 Big Sky) entered the weekend on a five-match losing streak, but back-to-back victories against Idaho State and WSU put the Eagles back in the driver's seat as they return home to take on the Montana schools on Halloween weekend.
In the opening set of Saturday's match, Eastern had built a 16-13 lead on the home team, but in the blink of an eye, the Wildcats had a 23-17 edge after junior Dama Cox served 10-straight points for her team. Weber State earned the sideout off an Eagle service error, and then capitalized on seven more unforced errors by the red and white. Eastern's junior outside hitter Shelby Puckett put a momentary stop to the bleeding with solo block and kill in back-to-back plays. But it was too little too late for the Eags, who conceded the set, 25-18.
"All of the sudden, nothing was working," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "We looked a jittery, and just lost our composure."
But Eastern responded in a big way, dominating the final three sets with a .267 attack percentage. Eastern also had 10 service errors in the match, eight of which came in the final three frames.
"The girls showed a lot of maturity in the way they responded after the first set," said Kydd. "They understood it was just one bad rotation, and there was no need to freak out. We got our serving going, which put Weber in a lot of trouble, and then just executed the game plan."
Eastern was led by middle blockers Chenoa Rossi-Childress and freshman Talia Fermantez, who combined for 13 kills on a .367 clip. Rossi-Childress, who was sidelined with a knee injury for the first three weeks of the Big Sky season, finished with 10 kills and match-high six blocks.
Fermantez had six kills and only one error in 12 attempts. Junior captain Cora Kellerman was just two kills shy of a double-double, as she had 13 digs and eight kills, while also contributing two blocks.
Sophomore setter Lindsay Niemeier was also knocking on the door of a double-double, as she finished with 20 assists and eight digs. Niemeier also had four aces. Her counterpart, junior Laney Brown, tallied 18 assists, five digs and three aces of her own.
Senior libero Lindsey Petroni had 18 pickups for her second-straight double-digit dig outing, and eighth of the season.