Niemeier notches another double-double, but Hornets shut down Eagle offense with 13 blocks
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team suffered its first sweep of the Big Sky season, as Sacramento State defeated the Eagles, 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-18) on Saturday (Oct. 8) at Colberg Court in Sacramento, Calif.
The loss was Eastern's fourth-straight, as the team is now 8-10 on the season and 4-3 in Big Sky action. The Hornets improved to 11-9 in the 2011 campaign and moved into a tie with Northern Colorado for the top spot in the conference with a 5-1 league record.
Eastern recorded its second-lowest hitting percentage of the season against Sac State at .106. The Eagles managed only 31 kills in 113 attempts, while the Hornets had 13 total team blocks - the most tallied by any EWU opponent this season.
"Give credit to Sac for getting their hands across the net," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "We tried to do some different things and tested different rotations, but the bottom line is, we couldn't execute our offense."
The first set of the match featured nine ties and three lead changes, as Eastern battled back from a 20-16 deficit to pull within one at 24-23. But on set point, the Eagles committed one of their five service errors in the match to give Sac State an early 1-0 edge.
In the second set, the Hornets used several small runs to bury Eastern just enough to come away with the 25-19 victory.
What followed in the third stanza was nothing unfamiliar to EWU. The Eags came out flat following the 10-minute intermission, allowing Sac State to jump out to a quick 7-1 lead. The home team continued to roll, building a 14-6 advantage before Kydd was forced to call his second timeout of the set. Eastern then made a small run to pull within four at 14-10, but the Hornets were able to maintain enough momentum for a 25-18 victory.
"We struggled again coming out of the break, and as a coach, I have to take responsibility for that continuing pattern" said Kydd. "We need to find some confidence somewhere, so we can come out and battle."
"I think it's important to remember that after you win a match, you're never as good as you think you are and after a loss, you're never as bad as you think you are," added Kydd. "I know we have the talent to get the job done, but we just need to figure some things out in training and find the motivation to be better."
Sophomore setter Lindsay Niemeier notched her seventh-straight double-double, as she now has a conference-leading 12 on the season. Niemeier finished with 11 assists and a team-high 10 digs.
Junior Shelby Puckett was the only Eagle to notch double-digit kills with 14 on the night. Sophomore Ashley Wright had a solid all-around game for the Eags, as she finished with seven kills, six digs, two blocks and two service aces.
The Eagles will stay on the road for its next three Big Sky battles, starting with a match at Portland State on Saturday (Oct. 15) at 7 p.m.