Cheney, Wash. – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team started Big Sky Conference play with an emphatic sweep of North Dakota at Reese Court Thursday night, Sept. 24.
EWU evens its overall record to 6-6 and improves to 1-0 in league play with the win while North Dakota falls to 0-1 in conference action and 11-6 overall. Set scores for the match were: 25-22, 25-17, 25-23.
Eastern raced out to a 2-0 advantage after the first two sets, hitting .462 in the second frame behind arguably its best passing performance of the season. North Dakota would regroup at the break, however, and open up a 12-8 lead midway through the third set.
Senior Alexis Wesley put away a pass from sophomore Nicole Rigoni to stop the visitors' run. Kills from seniors Allie Schumacher and Ana Jakovljevic, along with two UND attack errors, saw the Eagles tie the score at 13-13. North Dakota answered back with another run, taking a 21-18 edge late in the frame.
Eastern had time for one more rally, tying the score at 22-22 before taking a one-point lead on a block from Wesley and freshman Jessica Gilbert. UND would tie the score on the next play, but a kill from Schumacher gave the Eagles match point. Schumacher's ensuing serve found the floor, giving EWU the set and the match.
Gilbert led all players with a season-high 13 kills, hitting .480 (13-1-25) for the match. She added four digs and two blocks to her impressive stat line.
Schumacher notched 11 kills, five of which came in the decisive third set. She also tallied nine digs and a pair of service aces.
Rigoni registered a season-high 30 assists to go along with eight digs and one block.
Senior Ryann Ensrud paced the Eagles with 13 digs while Wesley finishing with a match-high three blocks.
EWU hit .290 on the night while North Dakota swung at a .157 clip. The Eagles held UND to a .105 hitting percentage in the decisive third set.
Eastern finished with five blocks compared to three for the visitors.
Quoting Coach King
"I thought we passed really well tonight, which made our offense gel. We've been working on that a lot, and tonight's performance was a result of that. The passing allowed us to be successful.
"I thought Jessica was tremendous tonight, and I thought Ana really passed the ball well. She was very steady for us. Our passing overall tonight was excellent, and Nicole did a very nice job setting the offense and setting the right players at the right time."
Tonight's victory marks the Eagles' first win over North Dakota in seven tries. UND, who joined the Big Sky prior to the 2012 season, was a perfect 3-0 at Reese Court prior to tonight's match.
Eastern is now a perfect 6-0 on the season when winning the first set, and is 5-0 when taking the first two frames.
Tweet of the Match
EWU welcomes Northern Colorado to Reese Court for a conference counter this Saturday, Sept. 26, at 12 p.m. PST.