Eagles come back strong

Volleyball aces start to season with 2-0 conference play


Photo by Melanie Flint

Despite roadblocks, volleyball started the season strong. Sophomore Nicole Rigoni sets ball for senior Alexis Wesley.

By Brandon Cline, Sports Editor

With a non-conference schedule that had its ups and downs, as well as a second straight year of changes within the coaching staff, the EWU volleyball team (7-6 overall, 2-0 conference) blocked out the noise and opened conference play with two home wins.

The Eagles knocked off the University of North Dakota on Sept. 24, taking the match in three sets, 25-22, 25-17, 25-23.

Freshman Jessica Gilbert led the Eagles with 13 kills, while senior Alexis Wesley notched three of the team’s five blocks. Senior Allie Schumacher finished with two service aces on the night, the last of which coming on match point. As a whole, the Eagles hit .290 on the night, compared to just .157 for North Dakota.

“I thought we passed really well tonight, which made our offense gel. We’ve been working on that a lot, and tonight’s performance was a result of that. The passing allowed us to be successful,” said interim head coach Michael King, who is taking over for Wade Benson.

Benson stepped down as head coach after the match against Corban University on Sept. 17, citing “fatigue of extensive travel and the demands associated with leading the Eastern Washington University volleyball program,” according to GoEags.com. Benson underwent treatment for throat cancer during the 2014 season, with King acting as the interim head coach then as well.

The Eagles completed the sweep on Sept. 26, taking down the Northern Colorado Bears in three sets as well, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19. The straight sets win was the sixth of the season for the Eagles, and they have yet to play a match that has went all five sets.

On the heels of big performances two days earlier, Gilbert and Wesley were strong once again for the Eagles, combining for 18 kills and 7 blocks.

Overall, the Eagles out-killed the Bears 42-35, out-dug them 53-52 and out-blocked them 9-3. The Bears were held to just a .115 hitting percentage, while the Eagles hit .218.

“We served tough and made very few service errors, and we put a lot of pressure on UNC,” said King. “Credit to Northern Colorado for playing very well. You could tell they came in prepared and ready to play.”

What’s Next: The Eagles travel to Cedar City, Utah for a match against Southern Utah University on Thursday, Oct. 1, before making the quick turnaround back to Cheney for a home match on Oct. 3 against the University of Idaho.