Moscow, Idaho – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team was upended by Idaho in four sets Saturday night, Nov. 7, in a Big Sky Conference match at Memorial Gym.
The contest was a battle between the two teams tied atop the Big Sky North Division standings. The win improves Idaho to 10-4 in league play and 13-13 overall while EWU falls to 9-5 in conference matches and 14-11 overall.
The Vandals controlled the opening two sets and took a 2-0 lead into halftime, but the Eagles came out of the break determined to fight back. After dropping the first point, Eastern tied the score on a kill from sophomore Chloe Weber and would not trail the rest of the way. Back-to-back kills from freshman Haile Watson gave EWU a 25-20 win and extended the match to a fourth set.
The two teams went back and forth for much of the fourth frame as a kill from sophomore Ashley Seiler tied the score at 7-7. Idaho would score three straight points to open up a four-point edge and force the Eagles to call timeout. Seiler recorded a kill out of the timeout, but the hosts had seized the momentum as Eastern would get no closer than three points the rest of the way.
Freshman Jessica Gilbert led all players with a season-high 17 kills, hitting .343 on the night (17-5-35). She added two digs, two blocks and one service ace to her stat line.
Seiler joined Gilbert in double figures with a season-best 14 kills on 30 swings. She also notched six digs, two blocks and one service ace.
Watson chipped in with six kills on eight attempts to go along with three blocks.
EWU committed more errors across the board than Idaho, finishing with 23 attack errors and 12 service errors compared to 16 attack errors and five service errors for the Vandals.
The Eagles hit .211 as a team while UI swung at a .267 clip.
Idaho finished with nine team blocks while Eastern registered eight rejections.
Quoting Coach King
"I thought we played well enough and put ourselves in a great position, but our serving game let us down a bit. Our younger players stepped up and played well. It's good to get them some experience playing on the road in tough environments as we close the regular season."
While EWU has already locked up a bid to this season's Big Sky Tournament, its seed in the eight-team field remains in flux. Tonight's result could have significant implications as Eastern entered the match as the potential No. 2 seed but now sits in fifth place in the overall standings with two matches left. The Eagles need a win over either Northern Colorado or North Dakota next week to put itself back in position to enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed by virtue of being atop the Big Sky North Division standings
Ensrud now has 1,108 career digs and needs 32 digs to move into sixth on Eastern's NCAA Division I career digs list.
EWU lost for the first time this season when recording more kills than its opponent. The Eagles were 12-0 when notching more kills than their opponent entering tonight's match.
Eastern will travel to Greeley, Colo., for a tilt with Northern Colorado this Thursday, Nov. 12. The match is set to begin at 6 p.m. PST.