July 14, 2024

Eastern conquers four nationally ranked teams

No. 15, Avery best, serving the volleyball to opposing team photo courtesy Jeff Barrett

Going 3-1 on the weekend of Sept. 6-7 at the CSI Starr Corporation Invite, Utah State University Eastern women’s volleyball team proved they aren’t willing to back down without a fight. They fought a difficult game against nationally ranked No. 4 team, Miami Dade College and proved they deserve to be one of the top-20 nationally ranked teams. Eagles def. Sharks 24-14, 25-20, 25-22, 25-19, 15-9. In the first set against the Miami Dade, the Eagles struggled to get a return on the ball thanks to Miami’s powerful offensive team. The set ended 25-14. In the second set, the Eagles improved by a few points with the set ending at 25-20. The Eagles were determined to show they could level up to the Sharks. With careful movement, brilliant teamwork and help from the leading players of the game: Kiara Richardson with 12 kills; Kennedy Poulton’s four aces; Kahea Nihipali’s nine blocks; Ashlee McUne’s 47 assists and Avery Best’s 17 digs; the Eagles were able to take two amazing wins in the third and fourth set against the No. 4 nationally ranked team, leading into a five set game. However, the Sharks were able to gain back control in the 15 point last set and settled the score at 3-2. Eagles def. Bears 25-14, 25-20, 25-19.The Eagles next faced Missouri State University – West Plains for the rst time with a score of 3-0. The Eagles advanced both offensively and defensively throughout the game with help from Breanne Bitter’s 13 kills, Richardson’s two aces, Nihipali’s five blocks, McUne’s 41 assists and Best’s 11 digs. Eagles def. Thunderbirds 25-16, 25-15, 25-14. Matching up for the fifth time, the Eagles battled Casper College at the Starr Corporation Invite with a record of 1-3. The Eagles anticipated a tough duel against the Thunderbirds, but effortlessly won the three-set game. Leading players were Sunny Perry with 12 kills and four blocks, Nihipali with five aces, McUne, 41 assists and Emma Ricks 16 digs. Eagles def. Golden Eagles 25-17, 25-21, 25-21. Lastly, the Eagles faced Laramie County Community College who they had lost to in 2014 and 2016. The Eagles continued to play hard as they won another three set game. Leading players of this game were Richardson with 12 kills, Perry two aces, Bitter four blocks and McUne 39 assists and 15 digs. The following weekend, September 13-14, the Eagles headed to Colorado to attend the Pizza Hunt Invitational where they faced Casper College again and nationally ranked No. 16 Northeastern Junior College, No. 11 Iowa Western and Western Nebraska Community College. The Eagles went an outstanding 4-0 in the Invitational beating both nationally ranked teams. Eagles def. Thunderbirds 25-14,
25-10, 25-19.
The Eagles first game was against Casper CollegeThunderbirds. The Eagles had no hesitation on the court as they came out looking for another win and succeeded. Leading players of the game were Alyssa Simmons with eight kills, Perry two aces, Bitter two blocks, McUne 36 assists and Best’s 18 digs. Eagles def. Plainsmen 25-15, 25-15, 25-17, 25-16. The Eagles’ next game was against No. 16 Northeastern Junior College which lead into a four-set game. The Eagles came out strong in the first two sets, but because of errors, they lost the third set. The Eagles needed to get the job done and with help from Richardson who had 15 kills, Nihipali’s two aces and eight blocks, McUne’s 45 assists and Perry’s 13 digs, they were able to dominate in the final set. Eagles def. Reivers 25-21, 30-28, 25-21. The Eagles third game in the Invitational would be against a more challenging competitor, No. 11 Iowa Western Community College. It was a heated battle as both teams fought neck and neck with each other. The Eagles were able to come out on top each set claiming their win against the Reivers. Top players of the game were Richardson with 16 kills, Ricks’ one ace, Nihipali’s four blocks, McUne’s 47 assists and Best’s 18 digs. Eagles def. Cougars 25-16, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23 Lastly, the Eagles played Western Nebraska Community College who defeated the Eagles the past two years. The game went into four sets as the Eagles were seeking vengeance. With aid from Richardson who had 16 kills, Perry’s two aces, Nihipali’s five blocks, McUne’s 52 assists and Perry’s 14 digs, the Eagles conquered the first two sets. The Cougars did try to settle the score as they took a hold of the third set, but were not able to take the fourth set as well. The Eagles ended the Invitational undefeated and hold a 17-3 overall record.The Eagles have one more tournament in Scottsbluff, Neb., before heading into its season conference opener on Thursday, Sept. 26, against nationally ranked No. 8 Salt Lake Community College. The Eagles have shown an outstanding performance this preseason led by head coach Danielle Jensen.