Greeley, Colo. – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team dropped a tough five-set match to Northern Colorado in Big Sky Conference action Thursday night, Nov. 13.
Despite the defeat, EWU remains in the hunt for the No. 2 seed at next week's Big Sky Tournament. Northern Arizona clinched the conference's regular season title with a win over Sacramento State earlier today, and will serve as host for the league tournament.
The Eagles need a win over North Dakota this Saturday, Nov. 14, coupled with a Northern Colorado victory over Idaho, to secure the Big Sky North Division title and the conference tournament's No. 2 seed.
Eastern falls to 9-6 in Big Sky play and 14-12 overall with the loss while Northern Colorado improves to 9-6 in conference matches and 13-15 overall.
The two teams went back and forth throughout the night as the match featured 42 ties and 15 lead changes. Eastern took the first and third sets only to see UNC answer both times, including a 25-22 win in the fourth frame to send the contest to a decisive fifth set.
The fifth set was a mirror image of the first four frames as neither team was able to gain any separation. EWU led by one point twice in the early going, but the Bears led, 8-7, at the turn. The two squads exchanged points for the next nine rallies until a UNC attack error spotted the Eagles a 13-12 edge.
After a Northern Colorado timeout, the hosts scored back-to-back points to go up one, 14-13. Another UNC attack error tied the score at 14-14, but a kill from Kortney Lockey and an EWU attack error handed the match to the Bears.
Senior Ana Jakovljevic set a new career high with 18 kills, hitting .386 (18-1-44) for the match. She added 13 digs to her stat line, recording her fourth double-double of the season.
Sophomore Ashley Seiler joined Jakovljevic in double figures with 14 kills.
Sophomore Nicole Rigoni also finished with a double-double, tallying 34 assists and 16 digs.
Senior Ryann Ensrud paced EWU with 17 digs.
EWU committed 14 service errors on the night, its most in a match this season. The Bears finished the match with six service errors.
Eastern hit .203 as a team compared to UNC's .190 clip.
The Eagles finished with nine total blocks as a team compared to five for Northern Colorado.
Quoting Coach King
"I thought our play was really solid throughout the match. We let ourselves down a bit from the service line, though. You aren't going to win many matches when you commit a high amount of service errors."
EWU lost for the first time this season when finishing with a higher hitting percentage than its opponent. Eastern was 13-0 when hitting a higher percentage than its opponent entering tonight's match.
The Eagles had also not lost a match when recording more blocks than its opponent until tonight. EWU was 11-0 in those matches entering tonight's contest.
Eastern closes its regular season with a Big Sky match at North Dakota this Saturday, Nov. 14. First serve is set for 9 a.m. PST.