Cheney, Wash. – Up two sets to one, the Eastern Washington women's volleyball team saw visiting Northern Colorado rally to win a five-set thriller Friday, Nov. 15, in a Big Sky counter at Reese Court.
The Eagles fall to 9-19 (6-11 BSC) with the loss while the Bears improve to 12-15 (8-9 BSC). Set scores for the match were: 25-22, 20-25, 26-24, 17-25, 7-15.
Sophomore Allie Schumacher notched her fifth double-double of the year, finishing with 14 kills and 12 digs. She added three blocks.
Junior Kelsey Julian paced the Eagles with 16 kills, narrowly missing out on a double-double with nine digs. She added a team-high three service aces and three blocks.
Senior Lindsay Niemeier was also close to a double-double, tallying a season-best 46 asissts and nine digs to go along with three blocks and three kills. Sophomore Ryann Ensrud led EWU with 20 digs while junior Talia Fermantez recorded a match-high six blocks.
The Eagles jumped out to an early 8-5 lead in the first set, punctuated by a block from sophomore Allison Doerpinghaus and Julian. Up 13-10, EWU saw the visitors rally with a solid run of play to take a one-point lead, 15-14, on a kill from Brianna Strong. Eastern answered to regain a two-point advantage, 19-17, but was unable to put away a pesky Bears squad. Strong pulled UNC to within one, 23-22, on another kill, but a kills from Julian and Schumacher sealed the set victory for the Eagles.
The second frame began much like the first as Eastern took a five-point lead, 10-5, after Julian put away a pass from Niemeier. Undeterred by the Eagles' strong play, Northern Colorado responded to take 13-12 lead behind a block from Strong and Cheyanne Lyons. The two teams would remain within a point of one another for a majority of the set until the Bears took a two-point lead, 20-18, on a kill from Kendra Cunningham. Lyons would give the visitors a five-point advantage, 24-19, and a kill from Doerpinghaus would not be enough as UNC evened the match at 1-1 heading into the break.
This time, it was Northern Colorado taking the early lead in the third set, going up 12-9 after a service ace and block. The Eagles answered, using kills from Fermantez and Schumacher, and an attack error from the Bears, to take an 18-16 advantage, forcing the visitors to call timeout. UNC regained the lead after the timeout, going up 21-20 on a kill from Strong. After Eastern called timeout, the Eagles promptly reeled off three of the next five points to tie the score at 23-23. A kill from Cunningham momentarily stopped EWU's onslaught, but a kill from Julian and a pair of kills from senior Ashley Wright gave Eastern a 2-1 lead after three.
The fourth frame was close early, as a kill from Fermantez tied the score at 6-6. Northern Colorado turned it on from there, opening up a nine-point advantage, 18-9, after a number of service aces kept EWU out of system. The Eagles would cut the deficit to six, 22-16, but were unable to come all the way back as the Bears managed to force a decisive fifth set.
UNC raced out to a 4-1 lead at the beginning of the fifth set before a kill from Julian and an attack error brought Eastern back to within one, 4-3. The Bears would score four of the next six points to take an 8-5 lead at the turn before going up five, 10-5, on a block, forcing an EWU timeout. A kill from Fermantez stopped Northern Colorado's run, but the visitors regained a decisive five-point lead, 12-7, on a kill from Cunningham. The Bears' defense shut down Eastern the rest of the way, completing its comeback victory.
Cunningham finished with a match-high 22 kills, adding 12 digs for a double-double. Strong added 18 kills and a match-high six blocks.
The Eagles hit .168 to UNC's .234 clip, and were victim to 13 service aces from UNC. Eastern recorded 12 blocks to the Bears' 10, but Northern Colorado tallied 93 digs to EWU's 75.
Eastern will play its final home match of the 2013 season tomorrow against Big Sky co-leader North Dakota at 6 p.m. The Eagles will say goodbye to their two seniors, Niemeier and Wright, prior to the match.