Honolulu, Hawaii – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team played its third and final match as part of the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge Saturday night, Sept. 12, pushing No. 16 Hawai'i before falling in four sets at the Stan Sherriff Center.
Senior Allie Schumacher was named to the all-tournament team, finishing the week with averages of 2.09 kills per set and 1.73 digs per set.
EWU falls to 4-6 on the year with the defeat while Hawai'i claims the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge title and improves to 8-1.
The Rainbow Wahine, coming off an emotional victory over No. 2 Florida last night, claimed the first two frames by identical 25-19 scores, continuing its strong play. Despite the two-set deficit, Eastern came out of intermission with confidence, using stellar defensive play at the net to claim the third set, 25-22, and extend the match to a fourth frame.
A kill from sophomore Chloe Weber gave the Eagles an early 5-4 lead in the fourth set, but UH would score the next four points to open up an 8-5 advantage. EWU got no closer than two points the rest of the way as the hosts held on for the match victory.
Sophomore Nicole Rigoni finished with 21 assists and 10 digs, good for her first double-double of the season. She also put away a team-high three service aces.
Schumacher led all players with 11 digs, adding seven kills and three blocks to her stat line.
Senior Ana Jakovljevic tallied 10 kills on 25 swings while chipping in with six digs and a pair of service aces.
Eastern's failure to close sets out was arguably the lone blemish on what is perhaps the team's best performance so far this season. The Eagles led 19-18 late in the second frame only to see Hawai'i score six unanswered points to win the set. The same could be said for the fourth frame, as a Schumacher kill brought EWU to within two, 19-17, before the hosts scored four of the next five points to open up what would be an insurmountable lead.
The Eagles hit .133 compared to the Rainbow Wahine's .243 clip. Eastern finished with eight service aces to UH's five while Hawai'i tallied 14.5 blocks to the Eagles' 13.5 rejections.
Quoting Coach Benson
"I thought we played our best match of the year tonight. I feel like we now know how well we can play if we prepare the right way. We blocked very well tonight, and I thought our ball handling was good. We're also showing some maturity in our attack, which is very encouraging."
EWU, winless in four meetings against Hawai'i, took a set off the Rainbow Wahine for just the second time in series history and the first time since Dec. 1, 2001, when the two squads met in the second round of the NCAA Championship.
Freshman Haile Watson was given a spot in the Eagles' starting rotation tonight for the first time in her career. She appeared in her first career match last night against San Diego State.
Eastern concludes nonconference play with its first home match of the season this Thursday, Sept. 17, when Corban visits Reese Court. The match is set to begin at 6 p.m. PST.