Grand Forks, N.D. – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team put together an impressive performance Saturday afternoon, Nov. 14, but untimely errors doomed the Eagles to a five-set defeat at the hands of North Dakota in their regular season finale.
EWU has already locked up a bid to next week's Big Sky Conference Tournament, but will have to wait until the rest of the day's matches conclude to learn its seed and first round opponent.
Eastern finished the regular season with a 14-13 overall record and a 9-7 mark in Big Sky play with North Dakota improves to 21-12 overall and 9-7 with the win.
After dropping the first set, the Eagles came roaring back, hitting .400 en route to taking the second frame in convincing fashion, 25-15. EWU kept up its strong play in the third set, taking a 20-18 lead behind consecutive kills from senior Ana Jakovljevic. Eastern was in a position to win the set, but committed two attack errors late, including one on set point that gave North Dakota a 26-24 win.
EWU closed the fourth set in impressive fashion, turning a 17-16 deficit into a 23-18 lead before a kill from sophomore Chloe Weber and a UND attack error sent the match to a decisive fifth frame. The hosts got off to a fast start, opening up an 8-5 lead midway through the set. Eastern would pull to within one, 12-11, but committed a crucial service error that gave North Dakota the momentum it needed to secure the match victory.
Sophomore Nicole Rigoni had arguably her best game of the season, finishing with a career-high 60 assists to go along with nine digs and three kills.
Jakovljevic led all players with a career-high 22 kills, hitting .327 (22-6-49) for the match. She added 14 digs for her second straight double-double. She added two service aces to her stat line.
Senior Ryann Ensrud registered a match-high 34 digs, her second-career match with at least 30 digs.
Freshman Jessica Gilbert added 16 kills and four digs while sophomore Ashley Seiler chipped in with 14 kills, seven digs and two blocks. Senior Alexis Wesley tallied 13 kills and a team-high four blocks.
The Eagles recorded 77 kills to just 57 kills from North Dakota, but committed 30 attack errors to just 17 for the hosts. EWU hit .240 for the match compared to a .215 clip by UND.
Eastern had 10 service errors and four aces while North Dakota finished with three aces and seven service errors.
UND registered 12 total blocks compared to eight rejections for the Eagles. Eastern also finished with 96 digs while North Dakota notched 76 digs.
Quoting Coach King
"Today's was another tough result. I loved how we responded after the first set. I thought we got tentative from the service line in key moments of the match, which allowed North Dakota to pass well and execute. Missing three serves in the fifth set makes it tough to win matches."
Ensrud's 34 digs move her into sixth all-time on Eastern's NCAA Division I career digs list. She now has 1,161 career digs.
Rigoni's 60 assists were eight more than her previous career high of 52, which she set against Montana earlier this season on Oct. 17.
Jakovljevic's 22 kills were five better than her previous career high of 17, a mark she had reached twice before in her career.
EWU will head to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the 2015 Big Sky Tournament next week. Hosted by Northern Arizona, first round matches are set for this Thursday, Nov. 19. Stay tuned to GoEags.com for the most up-to-date information on match times and opponents.