Cheney, Wash. – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team topped visiting Sacramento State in four sets Thursday night, Oct. 8, in a Big Sky Conference match at Reese Court.
Winners of six straight, EWU improves to 5-0 in league play and 10-6 overall while the loss drops Sacramento State to 3-2 in conference matches and 16-4 overall.
Eastern raced out to a 2-0 edge after the first two sets, hitting .304 as a team through the opening two frames. The Hornets rebounded after the break, cruising to a 25-14 win in the third set, holding the Eagles to a negative hitting percentage while swinging at a .409 clip.
The fourth frame was a back-and-forth affair throughout as neither team led by more than two points until a service ace from sophomore Nicole Rigoni spotted EWU a 15-12 edge. Eastern went up four, 16-12, after an attack error, forcing Sacramento State to call its second timeout of the set.
The Hornets pulled back to within one, 16-15, but a service error stopped their run and ignited a stretch of five straight points for the Eagles as they went up 21-15 late in the frame. The visitors would get no closer than two points the rest of the way as EWU held on to claim the set and the match.
Senior Ana Jakovljevic led all players with 16 kills, seven of which came in the decisive fourth set. She hit .412 (7-0-17) in the crucial fourth frame, adding four of her 11 digs. She also put away three service aces.
Freshman Jessica Gilbert chipped in seven kills to go along with five digs and three blocks.
Rigoni recorded her fourth double-double of the year, tallying 26 assists and a career-high 13 digs.
Senior Ryann Ensrud tallied a match-high 21 digs.
Sacramento State committed 16 service aces on the night compared to just six miscues by the Eagles.
Eastern finished with 65 digs while the Hornets tallied 54 digs.
Quoting Coach King
"Give Sacramento State a lot of credit. I thought they were very well prepared for us. I think the match came down to a serve and pass game and we handled the ball really well for the most part. Our ability to serve tough at critical times was what lead us to victory tonight."
EWU's five-match winning streak to open Big Sky play is its best start since the 2009 season. The Eagles' current stretch of six straight wins is their longest streak in six years.
Eastern is now a perfect 10-0 when winning the first set and 8-0 when taking the opening two frames.
Tonight's win marks EWU's 250th Big Sky victory in the program's 33-year history as a member of the league.
Eastern welcomes Portland State to Reese Court for a conference counter this Saturday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m. PST.