Lady Eagles fall short to Southern Utah

By Shane Moses, Contributing Writer

The Eastern women’s volleyball team came  close to getting its first win of the season but came up just short Sept. 27 losing 3-2 against new Big Sky Conference opponent Southern Utah. The Eagles lost in a heartbreaking fifth set 18-25, 25-16, 25-17, 22-25, 11-15 at Reese Court in Cheney.

It was the first ever meeting in the Big Sky between the Eagles and the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah. Eastern continues to fight for that elusive first win of the season and will get another chance on  Sept . 28 as they take on one of the top teams in the Big Sky in Northern Arizona. NAU is coming in with a record of 3-1 in conference play and an overall record of 11-2.

The lady Eagles had all the momentum on their side as they were up two sets to one going into the fourth set but could not seal the deal as Southern Utah won the fourth set 25-22.

In the fifth set, Eastern dug itself into a hole and fell behind early 6-1 but then mounted a huge comeback to tie it at 7-7. Southern Utah then called a timeout to freeze Eastern’s momentum and from there blocked the next five of EWU’s six attack attempts to take a commanding 14-8 lead. EWU senior Cora Kellerman managed to keep the Eagles in the game as she saved three match points, but it was  not enough as Southern Utah’s Cashaana Renfro closed out the match with the game ending kill. The Eagles dropped their 16th consecutive match and fifth in the Big Sky.

“We just got timid,” said EWU head coach Lisa Westlake. “We need to be tougher in these situations. We were up 2-1 after the third set, but then they started serving harder and we eased up on ours. Then our passing started to go as well. It was great to see us compete, but we need to finish.”

The Eagles posted a season high 63 kills and had the second best hitting percentage of the season with a .216, but were outblocked by the Thunderbirds 17-8. Kellerman recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 12 kills and 12 digs and freshman Allie Schumacher had a career high 13 kills to go along with six digs as a starter.

EWU sophomore Kelsey Julian came off the bench and aided the Eagles. She finished the night with a career high 13 kills, a daunting .550 attack percentage, five digs, two blocks and an ace .

“Kelsey did a phenomenal job,” said Westlake. “She has been competing hard in practice and her numbers have just been improving and improving. We gave her a chance tonight and she went in there and took care of business.”

EWU setter Laney Brown was also impressed with Julian, “I thought Kelsey came in off the bench and played awesome, hitting wise and defense and blocking,” said Brown. “I thought she did great.”

Brown had an all around good game as she had two kills, eight digs and finished with 50 assists, just two shy of her career high.

“She looked the best I’ve seen her all year,” said Westlake. “She’s coming along really quick.”

“I feel like our team as a whole and myself personally, can always improve on defense,” said Brown. “I think just being a leader on the court and keeping my composure is [very important].”