Eagles Edged by Northern Arizona, 3-1

Eastern rallies for inspiring win in third set, but inconsistency gets the best of Eagles

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team has yet to win a match in the 2012 season, but the Eagles have won five sets in their last four outings, which is more than the team had won in its previous 13 matches combined.

Eastern suffered its 17th loss of the season on Friday (Sept. 28) to Northern Arizona (12-3, 4-2 Big Sky), but the Eags did not go down without a fight. Playing in front of a rowdy home crowd, the Eagles rallied from a 24-21 deficit in the third set to win it 30-28. They forced extra innings again in the fourth, but NAU managed to hang on for the 3-1 (25-22, 25-18, 28-30, 28-26) victory at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

“We are definitely fighting,” said EWU head coach Lisa Westlake. “It all starts with the attitude. The team stepped on the court really wanting to win that third set. They always want to win, but don’t always put forth the effort. We fought a little bit more in that third set and played with some passion.

“But we are streaky,” added Westlake. “Our biggest challenge right now is being consistent. In volleyball, the team that is streakier is usually going to lose.”

Neither team dominated the other statistically in Friday’s match. The Eagles and Lumberjacks finished with identical digs (83), service aces (3) and service errors (5). Eastern actually held a 62-56 advantage in kills, but the red and white committed 13 more errors on offense to finish with a .124 efficiency, compared to .180 for NAU.

Senior Cora Kellerman (La Conner, Wash.) led all hitters in the match with a season-high 19 kills, 10 of which came in the thrilling third set. She also had 18 digs for her fifth double-double of the season.

Coming off a career night of 13 kills against Southern Utah, sophomore Kelsey Julian (Kennewick, Wash.) eclipsed double-digits again with 11 putaways. Her classmate, Talia Fermantez (Honolulu, Hawaii), added 10 kills and tied her season-high in blocks with six.

Four different Eagles posted double-digit digs, as the team finished with a season-high 83. Junior libero Celeste Crosby (Spokane, Wash.) led the way with 20 - her second-straight 20+ dig performance. Senior Shelby Puckett (Latah, Wash.) had 17 pickups, while senior Laney Brown (Waterville, Wash.) contributed 11, to go along with 47 assists.

Eastern will stay in Cheney for its next two Big Sky matchups against newest league member North Dakota on Thursday (Oct. 4) and defending Big Sky regular-season and tournament champion Northern Colorado on Friday (Oct. 5).

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