Cheney, Wash. – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team played well for large portions of its match against Northern Arizona but was unable to capitalize down the stretch as the visiting Lumberjacks claimed a three-set win in Big Sky Conference action Thursday night, Nov. 5.
Eastern falls to 9-4 in league play and 14-10 overall with the loss while NAU improves to 12-1 in conference matches and 22-4 overall with its 11th consecutive victory.
The Eagles put themselves in positions to win each of the three sets against the hottest team in the Big Sky but saw the visitors finish each frame with the killer instinct brought about by years of experience playing together in big matches. The contest featured 23 ties and eight lead changes as neither team gave the other much breathing room.
With the score knotted at 22-22 late in the first set, NAU took a timeout to regroup. The break was exactly what the Lumberjacks needed as they scored the final three points to take the opening frame. Undeterred, EWU came right back in the second set as a kill from sophomore Chloe Weber brought the Eagles to within two, 20-18. Northern Arizona would score the next three points, however, and Eastern was unable to stop the visitors' momentum as they took a 2-0 lead into intermission.
EWU settled down and came out firing in the third set, opening up a 16-12 edge midway through the frame. The Lumberjacks rallied to pull to within one, 17-16, forcing the Eagles to call timeout. After the stoppage in play, NAU scored eight of the next 11 points to go up four, 24-20. A kill from Schumacher momentarily halted the visitors' momentum, but Northern Arizona answered on the next possession to win the set and the match.
Ensrud finished with a match-high 20 digs, 11 of which came in the first set.
Wesley led Eastern with nine kills on 15 swings while Jakovljevic tallied eight kills on 27 error-free attempts to go along with eight digs.
Both Weber and freshman Jessica Gilbert added eight kills apiece while Weber tallied a team-best three blocks. Schumacher registered six kills and four digs.
Sophomore Nicole Rigoni tallied 18 assists, seven digs and two service aces.
Northern Arizona hit .316, committing just seven attack errors on the night. Eastern swung at a .250 clip.
The Lumberjacks finished with seven service aces to the Eagles' three and tallied seven blocks compared to three for EWU.
Quoting Coach King
"I thought both teams played really well tonight. We battled and competed, but what it boiled down to was serving and passing, and we didn't serve as well as they did at times. I loved our energy and I loved our fight, and I know we're going to respond. If we play like we did tonight and commit fewer errors and critical times, we're going to be a tough team.
Schumacher recorded her 1,000th career kill early in the second set, making her the 10th Eagle to reach that plateau in the program's 34-year NCAA Division I history. She now has 1,002 career kills and ranks 10th all-time in Eastern's DI history.
Ensrud's 19 digs moved her to within 43 digs of sixth all-time on EWU's NCAA DI career digs list.
The Eagles will play their final three regular season matches away from home, starting this Saturday, Nov. 7, at Idaho. The contest is set to begin at 7 p.m. PST.