Wildcats Edge Eagles on Senior Day, 3-1
Weber State uses 18 blocks and 10 service aces to spoil Eastern's final outing of 2012 campaign
Despite a very special senior night, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team was not able to get by the Wildcats of Weber State, as it fell 3-1 (27-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-22) on Saturday (Nov. 17) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern concludes the 2012 season at 5-26 overall, and finishes ninth in the Big Sky with a 5-15 league record. Weber State took 11th in the Big SKy race with a 4-16 mark, and finished the season at 11-21 overall.
The Eagles actually recorded more kills and digs than Weber State in Saturday's match, but the Wildcats had a more efficient offense, and conquered EWU on the block. WSU had 18 total team blocks in the match - the most recorded by any Eastern opponent this season.
"Right from the get go, we just played to their strengths," said EWU head coach Lisa Westlake. "We were not setting away from their best blockers, and we continually hit right into the block. I think Weber State has some players who were physically just a little bit stronger, but we needed to be smarter tonight."
The first set of the match featured 15 ties and seven lead changes. Eastern was able to save two set points, but as fitting for the night, the Wildcats eventually won it with a block.
Eastern scored the first four points of the second set, but following a kill from WSU's sophomore outside hitter Audrey Briggs, the Wildcats went on a 9-3 run to take over the lead at 9-7. The Eagles scored the next three points in a row to move ahead by one at 10-9, but the Wildcats continued to pressure, and with seven blocks and four aces in the set, WSU took it, 25-17.
After falling behind 20-13 in the third set, Eastern put together an inspiring rally to keep the match alive. A kill from senior Cora Kellerman sparked a 10-2 run for EWU, as the home team earned its first set point of the night at 24-22. The Wildcats saved that one, but freshman Allie Schumacher scored the final point with a vehement kill.
After tallying 12 blocks in the first two sets, Weber State did not record a single block in the third.
Although Eastern had the momentum on its side, the Wildcats managed to take an early 10-8 lead in the fourth set. Although they kept it close, within 3-4 points, the Eagles found themselves chasing the entire way. Down 23-18, Eastern scored four of the next five points to pull within two at 24-22, but it was just too little too late, as WSU's setter, Caitlin Penrod, put it away with a kill on the final point.
Although the outcome was not what they wanted for senior night, Eastern's three seniors had a good showing in their final outing in red and white.
Kellerman registered her 11th double-double of the season with a match-high 16 kills on a .351 attack percentage and 13 digs. She also had two service aces.
"Cora played great, she played like a senior," complimented Westlake. "She was aggressive putting balls away and dug an incredible number of balls. She added a lot on the court tonight."
Senior libero Shelby Puckett picked up 12 digs for EWU and had four assists as well.
"Shelby passed nails," said Westlake. "That is what we need her to do for us now, and she did a great job."
Senior setter Laney Brown also posted her 11th double-double of the season with 45 assists and 10 digs. She also had three kills, one block and one ace.
"Our seniors have grown so much over the course of the season," said Westlake. "They had to learn a lot about the game in a short period of time, but I thought they ended their careers on a good note. What we needed tonight was more of a supporting cast. We needed some of our other players to step up and help the seniors. When there are three of four people on the court struggling, it is hard for us."
Freshman Allie Schumacher added 13 kills for the Eags, while junior Ashley Wright chipped in 10, but the two outside hitters combined for just a .129 attack percentage.
As a team, Eastern hit a .175 clip on the night, compared to .255 for Weber State. The Eagles had 30 offensive errors, and were aced 10 times. Eastern did out-dig WSU, 58-46, but the other defensive category was completely lopsided. The Wildcats led in total team blocks, 18-3.