Despite anticipated return of senior setter Laney Brown, Eastern drops to 0-8 on the season
On the bright side, the setting situation is on the mend.
But unfortunately, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team remains winless in the 2012 season after dropping a mid-week match at Boise State. The Eagles lost to the Broncos in three sets (25-9, 25-16, 25-23) on Wednesday (Sept. 5) at Bronco Gym in Boise, Idaho.
After playing 26 sets without an experienced setter, the Eagles finally welcomed back senior Laney Brown, who subbed in to the match in Boise midway through the third set. Brown had been sidelined with a broken big toe since late July. The Eagle offense took another hit when junior setter Lindsay Niemeier went down with a torn ACL in the very first match of the 2012 season.
But after a successful practice on Tuesday, Brown was able to play a few rotations for the Eagles in Wednesday’s non-conference matchup.
“Our trainers cleared Laney to play, but with conference starting next week, I wanted to be cautious,” said EWU head coach Lisa Westlake. “She went in during the third set to give us some fire when the score was close. Ashley [Wright] has done a great job for us these past couple weeks filling that position, but we wanted to get our middles going with a few quick and more difficult sets. Laney came in and did her job. We are excited to have her back.”
Eastern struggled to find a rhythm in the first two sets in Boise, scoring just 25 points combined before intermission.
“We did not come out tough in this match at all,” said Westlake. “We were struggling in the first two sets, and we let that get the better part of us mentally. We were not competing. But after our halftime chat, the team responded. They played with a bit of passion, which is something so important in volleyball.”
After trading several points at the beginning of the third set, Eastern went on a 10-4 run, sparked by a big kill from senior Shelby Puckett. Eastern maintained the advantage until late in the set, when Boise State scored six unanswered points to take a 23-20 lead. The Eagles pulled it within one at 24-23, but a kill by BSU’s Liz Harden gave the Broncos the set and match.
On the court for just 1/2 of one set, Brown finished with five assists and two digs in her season debut.
The Eagles now head to Ames, Iowa to take on No. 18 Iowa State, Syracuse and Iowa as part of the Iowa State Challenge Sept. 7-8. The two-day tourney in the Hawkeye State is the last outing for EWU before Big Sky Conference play begins on Sept. 13 with a road match at Sacramento State.
*due to a computer malfunction in Boise, official stats and box score for the Eastern Washington-Boise State match are not available at this time