June 6, 2023

Eagles destroy defending national champs

Makell Loveless sports writer

After defeating the defending national champions, Utah State University Eastern moved back up the ranking to No. 14 this week with a record of 20-6. In addition to the Eagles pre-season success, the Eagles have been holding high positions in stats, standing No. 1 in kills and assists and No. 2 in digs nationally. Individ- ually, freshman-setter Ashlee McUne, Amalga, Utah; holds No. 1 in assists and No. 3 in assists per set. Sophomore-out- side-hitter Kiara Richardson, Henderson, Nev.; holds No. 3 in sets. Freshman-libero Avery Best, Uintah, Utah; holds No. 6 in digs. Freshman-middle-blocker Kahea Nihipali, Las Vegas, Nev.; holds No. 4 in block total. And sophomore-outside-hitter Breanne Bitter, Syracuse, Utah; holds No. 7 in total attacks.

Coming off from their last tournament where they were undefeated, the Eagles headed to Scottsbluff, Neb., Sept. 20-21 to the Wyobraska Tournament. The Eagles came out fierce as they matched up with Sheridan College. The Eagles swiftly and skillfully took the win over Sheridan 3-0 in a quick three-set game with help from: Richardson, 15 kills; McUne, three aces, 43 assists; Alyssa Simmons, five blocks and Best, 21 digs.

Eagles def. Sheridan College 25-16, 25-13, 25-16

The Eagles kept the momentum going as they faced Trinidad State Junior College, who they had defeated a month earlier. The game ended 3-0 in favor of the Eagles. Stats of the game included: Sunny Perry, 12 kills; McUne two aces, 43 assists; Nihipali, five blocks and Best, 21 digs.

Eagles def. Trinidad State 25-19, 25-12, 25-19.

The Eagles’ third game was against Western Wyoming Community College. The Eagles had a win and a loss from the previous year against Western Wyoming. The Eagles were looking for another win against their opponent. The Eagles tried to get control of the game, but due to errors and a loss in momentum, the Eagles lost 0-3 to Western Wyoming. Leading players of the gamer were: Richardson, 12 kills; Nihipali, one ace; Bitter, three blocks; McUne, 22 assists and Best, 12 digs

Western Wyoming def. Eastern 25- 16, 25-12, 25-18.

The Eagles’ last game of the tournament was against Eastern Wyoming College. The Eagles defeated Eastern Wyoming every match, but this time Wyoming was able to gain the upper hand. The close game consisted of four sets, where the Eagles were able to take control of the third with assistance from Bitter, 15 kills; McUne, two aces, 45 assists; Nihipali, eight blocks and Best, 26 digs, but weren’t able to get control of the game. The Eagles lost 1-3

Eastern Wyoming def. Eastern 25- 20, 25-23, 20-25, 25-18.

“This tournament the girls did great on Friday and ran out of energy the second day. The ve weeks of preseason tournaments caught up to them and they had a hard time those last two games,” said Head Coach Danielle Jensen.

As the Eagles pre-season came to an end, their conference started up with their rst game Sept. 26, in Taylorsville, Utah, against an extremely tough competitor, nationally ranked No. 9 Salt Lake Commu- nity College. The previous year, the Eagles were able to earn two wins against SLCC, now hoping to continue their win streak.

The Eagles came out red up in the rst set winning it 25-21. In the second set SLCC was able to get a lead on the Eagles, until they quickly caught up. Due to a few errors, the Eagles ended up losing

the second set. Not willing to back down, the Eagles lead the third set. SLCC matched the Eagles energy and advanced the Eagles in the third set.
The fourth set was identical to the previous sets, switching back and forth between leads and comebacks. The Eagles were not able to overcome SLCCs defense and suffered their first loss in the conference. Contributing players of the game were: Nihipali, 14 kills; Perry, one ace and four blocks; McUne, 37 assists and 13 digs.

SLCC def. Eagles 25-21, 25-21, 25- 22, 25-19.

“The SLCC game was a good game for the girls to get a feel for conference play and how important it is to bring your best game each time we step on the court. We lacked intensity in the last few sets and ended up losing the game,” Jensen said.

The Eagles second game in the con- ference was against the reigning national champions, College of Southern Idaho, Sept. 28, in Twin Falls, Idaho. The Eagles knew how crucial this game would be for their conference and came out determined for a win.

In the first set, both teams battled point for point until the Eagles caught CSI off guard and pulled ahead, winning the first set. By the second set, anticipation was in the air, the score was tied 25-25. The Eagles strong defense allowed the offense to snag two more points winning the second set. Now with the game in the Eagles’ favor, the Eagles lead impressively in the third set and conquered CSI 3-0.

Offense and defense players: Rich- ardson, 16 kills; Nihipali, one ace, three blocks and McUne 39 assists, 16 digs, showed profound teamwork throughout the game, helping the Eagles gain their remarkable win.

Eagles def. CSI 27-25, 27-25, 25-18.“The CSI game the girls knew it would be a hard game playing such a great pro- gram like CSI. We were able to take the day on Friday and really work some things out from our match Thursday. The girls came out ready to win and they fought hard the entire game. They had a lot of intensity and worked together as a team,” Jensen said. In Rangely, Colo., the Eagles will compete against Colorado Northwestern Community College on Oct. 5. They will have their conference opener at home on Oct. 10 against Southern Nevada, followed by nationally ranked No. 6 Snow College on Oct. 12 in Ephraim, Utah.

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