Freshman Talia Fermantez has career night of 13 kills and nine blocks, and junior Laney Brown contributes career-high 19 digs, as Eagles jump to third in Big Sky Conference standings
This season has been a collection of streaks for the Eastern Washington University volleyball team. On Saturday (Oct. 29) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., the Eagles extended its current winning streak to four in a row, as the home team bested Montana State, 3-1 (19-25, 25-7, 25-17, 25-18).
Eastern opened the 2011 Big Sky Conference season with four-consecutive wins, but then dropped its next five matches in a row - four of which were BSC battles. But the team has turned it around once again with four wins in its last four outings.
With the victory Saturday against MSU, Eastern improves to 12-11 on the season and 8-4 in conference - good for third place in the current league standings. The Bobcats fell to 3-20 on the year and 2-10 in Big Sky Conference action.
"Getting the sweep this weekend and having eight wins definitely puts us in a better position," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "We also haven't played that well at home this year, so to get two wins here was a big deal. This is a place where we traditionally play really well, and we've lost that a little bit this season, so it's good to be back on the right track. We have two more home matches before the end of the year and we want to sweep those as well."
Eastern had three players record double-digit kills on Saturday, and five more with 10+ digs. Freshman middle blocker Talia Fermantez had the best outing of her young career with 13 kills on a .462 attack percentage. She was just one block shy of a double-double, as she finished with nine total blocks, including two solo stuffs.
"Against most teams in our conference, we feel like we have a pretty good physical matchup with their middle blockers," said Kydd. "That was definitely the case tonight. Both Talia and Amanda did a really nice job for us. I give full marks to the girls for taking care of business."
Freshman Amanda Brown, who came off the bench for EWU, had a nearly flawless night with seven kills and no errors on 10 attempts.
Junior captain Cora Kellerman had another scintillating performance, as she led the team with 19 kills, 17 digs and four blocks. She had just two errors on 36 total swings for a career-best .472 attack percentage.
Kellerman was coming off a career-night against Montana, in which she had 25 kills on .333 hitting.
Eastern dropped the first set to the Bobcats after allowing them to hit a .304 clip. But the home team certainly answered in the second with the most dominant performance of the season, as they buried the Bobcats, 25-7.
"The team had a pretty resounding response after losing that first set," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "Anytime you can hold a team to under 10 points, you must be doing something right."
As a team, Eastern recorded 15 kills with only one error on 25 attempts in that second set. Montana State had just five total kills with eight errors.
The Eagles also won the third set pretty handily, but heading into the fourth with the 2-1 lead, Eastern gave the crowd a little scare. Montana State jumped out to a quick 13-7 lead and looked as though they had reclaimed some momentum. But an inopportune service error by the Bobcats gave Eastern a sideout, and the home team then scored 14 of the next 17 points to earn a comfortable 23-16 advantage.
Montana State managed to score two more points before it was all said and done, but back-to-back kills by Fermantez, and fellow freshman Kelsey Julian gave Eastern the set and match.
Eastern's setting tandem of junior Laney Brown and sophomore Lindsay Niemeier combined for 46 assists and 30 digs, as both players registered double-doubles. Brown had a career-high 19 digs to go along with 24 assists. Niemeier had 22 assists and 11 pickups for her 14th double-double of the year - by far the most in the conference.
Junior outside hitter Shelby Puckett also had a double-double of 11 kills and 14 digs.
Senior libero Lindsey Petroni, who was coming off a 30-dig performance against Montana, had 22 pickups versus the Bobcats, while also contributing six assists.
Eastern will be back on the road for its next two matches, as it plays Northern Arizona on Thursday (Nov. 3) and league-leading Northern Colorado on Saturday (Nov. 5).