Flagstaff, Ariz. – Going up against one of the hottest teams in the Big Sky, the Eastern Washington women's volleyball team fell in three sets to Northern Arizona Saturday, Oct. 5, in a league match at the J.C. Rolle Activity Center.
The Eagles drop to 6-11 and 3-3 in Big Sky play while the host Lumberjacks improve to 10-4 (5-1 BSC) with the win. NAU is now 5-1 in its last six outings. Set scores for the match were: 17-25, 10-25, 19-25.
Junior Talia Fermantez led the Eagles with six kills on 15 swings. Fellow junior Kelsey Julian and freshman Chloe Watson added five kills apiece. Watson added a team-best seven digs in her second career start.
The first set was back and forth for the most part as neither team was able to gain much separation. Tied at 14-14, the Lumberjacks reeled off three straight points, forcing the Eagles to call timeout. The hosts extended their lead to seven, 21-14, but a kill from Doerpinghaus momentarily stemmed the tied. NAU responded with three consecutive points, helped by two attack errors from the Eagles, to take a nine-point lead, 24-15. Kills from junior Melissa Waelter and Fermantez kept EWU alive, but Sydney Kemper's kill claimed the opening set for the Lumberjacks.
Northern Arizona controlled the second set, racing out to a 9-3 lead. The host's advantage remained at six points for a majority of the set before NAU hit its stride late, using a 7-0 run to open up a 22-9 lead. Sophomore Kellen Barfield put away a kill from Niemeier to stop the run momentarily, but the Lumberjacks closed out the set with a kill from Addy Lofstedt to take a 2-0 lead into the break.
Much like the opening frame, both teams struggled to gain momentum, battling to an 8-8 tie. A kill from Fermantez and a NAU attack error gave the Eagles a 10-8 lead, but the hosts answered with a three-point run to go up 11-10. A kill from Doerpinghaus, followed by a service ace from freshman Kylie Curtis and a kill from Watson gave EWU another two-point lead, 16-14, but a string of errors gave the Lumberjacks a 19-17 lead, causing Eastern to call timeout. EWU would use its second timeout after the hosts opened up a 22-18 advantage, but the Eagles were unable to stop NAU as the Lumberjacks scored three of the final four points to win the set and the match.
Northern Arizona hit .284 for the match while the Eagles swung at a -.010 clip, only its second negative hitting percentage of the season. The Lumberjacks outblocked the Eagles 8.0 to 2.0, but EWU had three service aces to the host's two.
Kemper led all players with nine kills while Janae Vander Ploe added seven kills.
Eastern continues its road swing with dates at North Dakota and Northern Colorado next week. The Eagles take on UND on Thursday, Oct. 10, before facing the Bears on Saturday.