This archived article was written by: Nathan Davis
The College of Eastern Utah Eagles’ volleyball team, started their pre-season tournament play two weeks ago in Twin Falls, Idaho where they won two out of four matches. The next week, they played in a tournament hosted by Salt Lake Community College, where they dropped all six matches.
CEU started play Aug. 28 against North Idaho College Cardinals. The Eagles went into the game against NIC without sophomore Alexis Adams, who missed the tournament due to an ankle injury.
CEU lost to NIC in four games. The Eagles started out slow in the first game and unable to recover against the tough conference foe. EU was overwhelmed in the first set, losing big, 25-11. The Eagles bounced back in the second set, and won 25-20. After that, it was all NIC, the Cards took the next two sets, 25-14 and 25-19.
CEU rebounded with a win in their next match against Western Wyoming Community College Mustangs. The first set was a hard fought battle, with both teams performing well, CEU edged out WNCC 29-27. The Eagles also took the second set 25-20. In the third set, it was all WNCC, the Eagles were thumped, losing the set 25-8. But the Eagles came out strong in the third set, making quick work of the Mustangs, winning the set 25-22 and closing the match.
Following the win against WWCC, the Eagles advanced to play conference rival Snow College. The watch went the full five sets with CEU taking the victory in the end. It was a back, and forth the entire game, with CEU and SC trading wins for the first three sets. The Eagles won the first and third set, while SC took the third set. CEU secured the win by winning the fourth and fifth sets.
After the Snow game, the Eagles faced off against Northwest Wyoming College. NWC took the first set, while CEU came back to win the second set. After that it was all NWC, who won the third and fourth set, knocked the Eagles out of the tournament. Katie Palmer came off the bench and made a big impact in the win.
Head Coach Brent Martindale said that the team, showed some good signs of hope, but made some mistakes. The Eagles performed well in the tournament, he said, “Offensive standouts start with freshman outside hitter Barbara Jardim, who had 40 kills for the whole tournament.” Megan Garvin, also had 35 kills.
Next the Eagles took part in a tournament hosted by SLCC, which is “the premiere tournament in the USA, sometimes called the pre-season nationals.” CEU was placed in a tough bracket, with three nationally-ranked teams. Martindale welcomed the challenge and said that is “what we want [playing nationally-ranked teams], because to get better, we need to play tough teams.”
CEU struggled in the tournament and didn’t make it out of pool play. They first faced off against Western Nebraska, which is the No. 2 team in the nation. The Eagles won one set, but lost the match 2-1. Martindale was pleased with winning a set, and said “We were excited to beat them a game and thought it was a good way to start the tournament.”
Next for the Eagles was No. 18 Illinois Central. CEU lost in straight sets, falling 25-15, and 25-21. Jardim performed well for the Eagles with five kills in the loss.
After the game against IC, CEU took on No. 14 Jefferson College. Martindale said, that the team “played well, but still couldn’t pull out the victory, losing 25-21, 23-25, 13-15.” Garvin stood out for the Eagles with 11 kills and a .526 hitting average, and Jardim had 11 kills and an ace serve.
CEU next faced Central Wyoming. After splitting the first two sets, the Eagles were up 10-9 in the third set. But luck was not with the Eagles when Julia Potts rolled her ankle and left the game. Palmer came in as a replacement, but CEU was unable to pull out the win, losing 15-13. Martindale said they were so close to coming away with a win, but the team “lost a little momentum.”
On Saturday, the Eagles went up against No. 6 Missouri State West Plains. Martindale said that the team “could not get going at all. We lost 12-25, 18-25.” Jardim had five kills and Britni Greenwood had three kills and an ace for CEU.
Finally CEU took on Jefferson College again. The Eagles fell in three sets 20-25, 19-25, 22-25. Garvin led all hitters with 12 kills, while Jardim and Simas added seven kills each.
Martindale felt the team performed well, “I believe we played well, and it shows that we can play with anyone, but at this stage of the season, we need to learn to be strong enough to finish matches.
CEU takes on the Utah County All-Stars on Friday, Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. at the Bunnell-Dmitrich Athletic Center. They head to California to take part in the Santa Ana Invitational tournament.