Eastern led the Ducks in each of the three sets, extending the final set to four match points
Appearing unfazed by the host's top-10 ranking, the Eastern Washington women's volleyball team gave No. 8 Oregon all it could handle Friday night, falling in three hard-fought sets to the Ducks in its first match of the 2013 season as part of the Oregon Classic in Eugene, Ore.
Set scores for the match were: 25-20, 25-14, 28-26.
Junior Melissa Waelter led Eastern with nine kills on 27 swings. Senior Ashley Wright, juniors Kelsey Julian and Talia Fermantez and sophomore Allie Schumacher each added four kills. Four Eagles hit better than .250 in the match, highlighted by Fermantez's hitting percentage of .364 (4-0-11).
Freshman Sophie Miller paced EWU with 14 assists while senior Lindsay Niemeier recorded 11 assists in her first game back after suffering a season-ending injury in last year's opening match. Sophomore Ryann Ensrud tallied 15 digs, nearly half of the Eagles' 39 digs.
"I really liked how we came out against a very good Oregon team," head coach Wade Benson said. "We took them to the limit in Game 3. Overall, it was a really solid peformance for an early-season match."
EWU jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first set before Oregon responded, taking a 5-4 advantage after an attack error from Eastern and a kill from Liz Brenner. Eastern answered with a brief run to regain a 10-9 lead before expanding its margin to three, 14-11, midway through the first set. Oregon would tie the match at 16-16 before winning nine of the next 13 points to take the first set.
Julian, Fermantez and Waelter each notched a pair of kills in the first set. Julian hit .500 in the first frame while Fermantez swung at a .400 clip.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair early as neither team led by more than one point through the early going. Oregon won the first point but Eastern fought back to take a 5-4 lead on a kill from Fermantez. The Ducks would regain the lead on an attack error from Schumacher, going up 8-7. The Eagles would tie it three times but head coach Wade Benson was forced to call a timeout as the hosts went up four, 16-12. Oregon remained hot out of the break, extending its lead to eight, 20-12, on three consecutive kills from Martenne Bettendorf. EWU would claim two more points but the Ducks held the Eagles off to win the second set.
Waelter paced the Eagles with three kills in the second frame while Fermantez added two kills.
The Eagles came out hot in the third set, taking a quick 3-0 lead punctuated by a block from sophomore Allison Doerpinghaus. Eastern would extend its lead to five, 7-2, early in the set before the Ducks responded with a 5-0 run to tie the match. EWU answered by winning five of the next six points, forcing the hosts to take a timeout. Niemeier's ace gave the Eagles a 14-11 lead, but Oregon would come back to tie the match at 16-16, forcing Eastern to take a timeout.
Out of the break, the Ducks scored the next three points to take a 19-16 lead. Not to be denied, EWU answered with three straight points to tie the match before taking a 21-20 advantage late in the frame. Oregon responded to take a 24-22 lead, but back-to-back kills from Schumacher tied things at 24-all. The Eagles denied the Ducks on three straight match point chances, finally succumbing on the fourth try as Oregon took the third set and the match.
Waelter put away four kills in the decisive set while junior Stanka Panic added three kills.
EWU notched more blocks than the Ducks, recording nine to the host's six. Doerpinghaus notched five block assists while senior Ashley Wright assisted on four blocks.
Oregon hit .336 as a team with only one player hitting below .300. Bettendorf finished with a game-high 18 kills while Brenner added 13 kills and seven digs.
Eastern will play a pair of matches tomorrow on the second day of the Oregon Classic. The Eagles open with Ohio at 1 p.m. before squaring off with Bryant at 4:30 p.m.