Missoula, Mont. – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team saw its eight-match winning streak come to an end with a five-set defeat in a Big Sky Conference contest at Montana Saturday night, Oct. 17.
The loss drops EWU to 7-1 in conference play and 12-7 overall while Montana improves to 5-15 overall and 1-7 in league matches.
The two squads went back and fourth for the entire night, as Eastern claimed the first and third sets only to see the Grizzlies respond with wins in the second and fourth frames, pushing the match to a decisive fifth set.
The hosts took an early lead in the fifth frame, but a service error ignited a 7-2 run for the Eagles that saw them open up a 13-9 advantage late in the set. Montana answered with a run of its own, scoring five straight points to take a 14-13 lead.
The two teams exchanged points for a few rallies until the Grizzlies used a kill from Silerolia Gaogao to go up one, 19-18. An attack error from senior Alexis Wesley on the ensuing point would give the hosts the set and the match.
Senior Ana Jakovljevic led EWU with 17 kills on the night to go along with 13 digs for her third double-double of the season.
Montana hit .205 for the match compared to Eastern's .186 clip. The Eagles hit nearly .400 in the first set, but hit over .250 just once in the final four frames.
The Grizzlies finished with 11.5 blocks while EWU tallied just 4.0 blocks as a team, tied for its lowest output in a Big Sky match this season.
Quoting Coach King
"Tonight was one of those nights where it was tough to get a rhythm going offensively. We didn't put enough pressure on Montana from the service line, and they were able to run their offensive well. I'm very proud of what we've done to this point, and we're excited to get back in the gym and continue to improve."
Ensrud's 38 digs top her previous career high of 28 digs set against Southern Utah back on Oct. 1, 2015. Her 38 digs are also good for third all-time in EWU's NCAA Division I single-match history and are the most in a match since Angie Hall recorded 39 digs versus Sacramento State on Sept. 30, 1999.
The Eagles lost for the first time this season when winning the first set. Prior to tonight's match, Eastern was 11-0 this season in contests in which it won the opening frame.
EWU's road swing continues with a contest at Idaho State this Thursday, Oct. 22. First serve is set for 6 p.m. PST.