Pocatello, Idaho – In a battle of two of the Big Sky Conference's three first-place teams, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team fell to host Idaho State in three sets Thursday night, Oct. 22, at Reed Gym.
The loss drops EWU to 7-2 in conference play and 12-8 overall while Idaho State improves to 8-1 in league matches and 16-8 overall with the win.
The story was much the same in all three sets as Eastern and ISU went back and forth in the early stages of each frame before the Bengals would pull away down the stretch.
The Eagles led by one, 11-10, midway through the first set only to see Idaho State go on a 10-3 run to go up six, 20-14. EWU was within three, 13-10, in the second set, but the hosts reeled off nine of the next 12 points to take a 22-13 advantage late in the frame. The third set saw Eastern hang with the Bengals early, trailing by one, 8-7, before ISU went on a 10-2 run to put the set and match out of reach.
Senior Ana Jakovljevic led the Eagles with seven kills, adding five digs, one block and one service ace to her stat line.
Senior Allie Schumacher put away six kills to go along with a team-best nine digs.
EWU hit just .053 on the night, its lowest hitting percentage in Big Sky play. Idaho State swung at a .256 clip and committed just 12 errors on 86 swings.
ISU notched 11.0 blocks compared to just four for Eastern. The Bengals were also deadly from the service line, putting away seven service aces while the Eagles' notched just two.
Quoting Coach King
"Our group is still growing and developing. We need to learn how to play better on the road. We didn't make the finishing touch on the ball tonight on our blocking, and it seemed our blocking was a slight step behind. If we could have been just a little better in that department, as well as serving, I feel we would have been more competitive. We will keep getting better, and I do believe our best volleyball is still ahead of us."
Despite tonight's setback, EWU remains atop the North Division standings, owning a one-game lead over Idaho. Both ISU and Northern Arizona boast 8-1 league records, with NAU owning the tiebreaker over the Bengals with seven regular season matches left.
Schumacher moved into 10th all-time on Eastern's NCAA Division I career kills list. She now has 955 kills and is on pace to become the program's 10th player to record 1,000 career kills at the DI level.
The Eagles' four-match road trip wraps up with a tilt at Weber State this Saturday, Oct. 24. First serve is set for 6 p.m. PST.