New Orleans, La. – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team collected its first victories of the young season today, Sept. 4, sweeping both Providence and La Salle in impressive fashion on the first day of the New Orleans Invitational.
EWU improves to 2-3 on the season while Providence and La Salle drop to 1-4 and 3-2, respectively.
Quoting Coach Benson
"I thought we were much improved on our side of the ball. We hit well today and showed a lot of growth in that aspect of the game. We still need to be more consistent defensively to really be solid in all facets, but it was a very encouraging day for us."
Match 1 – EWU def. Providence, 3-0
After winning the first two sets in comfortable fashion, Eastern appeared poised to cruise to an easy victory heading into the third frame. Providence had other ideas, however, as the Friars raced off to a 14-6 lead midway through the set.
EWU would slowly chip away at Providence's lead, pulling within one, 22-21, after an attack error by the Friars. Providence went back up two, 23-21, thanks to a kill from Kayla Fitzgerald, but the Eagles rallied, scoring the final four points of the set to secure the sweep.
Senior Allie Schumacher led Eastern with 17 kills on 34 swings, hitting at a .471 clip. She added a match-high 14 digs for her first double-double of the season and also chipped in with three blocks.
Senior Alexis Wesley registered nine kills on 12 error-free attempts to go along with two rejections.
Junior Sophie Miller joined Schumacher in double figures with 10 kills, swinging at a .615 clip.
The Eagles hit .459 as a team, committing just six errors on 98 attempts. EWU had just one miscue in the first and third sets, respectively.
Eastern's defense was particulary impressive, finishing with 46 digs to the Friars' 30 while notching 13 blocks compared to just four for Providence.
Tweet of the Match
EWU's .459 hitting percentage is good for seventh all-time in a single match in the team's 33-year NCAA Division I history. The last time an Eastern team swung at a better clip was back on Oct. 23, 2009, against Weber State when it finished with a .488 hitting percentage.
Schumacher now has 16 career double-doubles, just 14 shy of breaking into the Eagles' top 10 list for career double-doubles.
Match 2 – EWU def. La Salle, 3-0
The Eagles won the first two frames convincingly, building on the momentum they gained after their sweep of Providence earlier in the day. La Salle managed to momentarily stop EWU's hot streak early in the third frame, using a three-point run to open up a 13-9 advantage.
Eastern would answer with nine consecutive points, and the Explorers would get no closer than three points the rest of the way as EWU claimed its second consecutive three-set victory.
Eastern's middle blockers showed up in a big way, finishing with 14 total kills on 23 swings. Wesley and sophomore Chloe Weber each tallied seven kills, with Weber needing just 10 swings to reach that mark. The duo also registered three blocks apiece.
Schumacher led EWU with eight kills and put away three service aces. Freshman Jessica Gilbert notched six kills on eight error-free attempts to go along with four digs, two service aces and two blocks.
Rigoni tallied 21 assists and added four digs, two blocks and a pair of timely kills.
The Eagles maintained their offensive rhythm from the first game, swinging at a .415 clip against the Explorers. Eastern had just seven attack errors on 82 attempts.
EWU was also strong at the net defensively, finishing with 12 total blocks to La Salle's four.
Tweet of the Match
The Eagles saw nine different players record at least one kill against La Salle. No player had more than eight kills as EWU displayed a balanced offensive attack.
Eastern returns to the court tomorrow, Sept. 5, for its third and final match as part of the New Orleans Invitational. The Eagles will square off with host New Orleans at 8 a.m. PT.