Makell Loveless Sports writer
No. 12 Utah State University Eastern Eagles bump up in the national rankings after defeating College of Southern Idaho, Salt Lake Community College who dropped to No. 15 and Colorado Northwestern Community College. They are also No. 2 in their Region 18 Scenic West Athletic conference. Head Coach Danielle Jensen says she hopes “to win the conference title.”
USUE volleyball defended its home court Oct. 17, against defending national champions, earning their third win streak over CSI. In the first set, the Eagles came out strong and determined. They were able to swiftly win the first set 25-20.
The Eagles kept their energy in the second set with an excellent performance by the offense with 50 kills, 45 assists, six blocks and two aces overall defeating CSI 25-20.
In the third set, the Eagles lost momentum of the ball and CSI was able to get the upper hand, taking the set 21-25.
The Eagles were able to gain back control in the last set winning the game 3-1.
“It was exciting to be able to get two wins against them. We haven’t beat them on our home court so that was fun for the girls. It set a good tone for that week,” Jensen said.
Leading players were Kiara Richardson, 14 kills and four blocks; Ashlee McUne, one ace and 38 assists and Sunny Perry, 22 digs.
Eagles def. CSI 25-20, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22.
“We had a lot of good momentum and energy from that game. The girls wanted revenge on SLCC and it was a great week for us to pull off two big wins,” Jensen said.
Packed with a supporting hometown crowd, the Eagles conquered nationally ranked No. 15, SLCC Oct. 19. This game was critical to the Eagles, as it would break a three-way-tie for second place in the SWAC standings.
“The girls knew what we needed to do to win that game. They came out focused and fought the entire game,” Jensen said.
The Eagles started off the first set strong both offensively and defensively, keeping their momentum throughout the game. The team was able to work together as one and shocked the crowd as they triumphed in the first set 25-19.
Determined for revenge, the Eagles continued to control the game in the second set. SLCC tried to match their momentum, but the Eagles continued to apply more pressure which paid off in a second set win 25-20.
In a close third set, the Eagles lost control of the ball due to errors made. In the previous game against SLCC, the Eagles fell due to too many errors made and knew they needed to play smart this time. Overall, the Eagles made 24 errors while SLCC made 29.
They Eagles knew they needed to win the fourth set, if not, they would be tied and have to play a five set game. They were focused and fought fiercely to snag another close set 25-22, winning 3-1.
The Eagles were able to gain their outstanding win over SLCC with the help of Richardson, 20 kills; Emma Ricks, one ace; Kahea Nihipali, three blocks; McUne, with an impressive 41 assists and Perry, 19 digs.
Eagles def. SLCC 25-19, 25-20, 23-25, 25-22.
Playing their final home game of the conference Oct. 26, the Eagles dominated over CNCC. As the game began, the Eagles took the lead in the first set and didn’t let up throughout the game. The short set ended 25-12.
The second set almost mimicked the first set. The Eagles were able to advance offensively with a hitting average of .310 percent overall while the Spartins average was -.036 percent overall. Because of this, the Eagles were able to take another set.
In the third set, CNCC was able to get a few more hands on the ball, but the Eagles defense swiftly got the ball back. The set ended 25-18, ending the game 3-0 and leaving Eastern with an overall 25-7 record.
Leading players of the game were Richardson, 13 kills; Hannah Randall, one ace; Nihipali, eight blocks; McUne, 33 assists and Avery Best, 15 digs.
Eagles def. Colorado Northwestern 25-12, 25-12, 25-18.
“I like to keep them focused and keep the game simple for them,” Jensen said. “We have a lot of good talks and jokes in a huddle at any given time.”
The Eagles have two more games before the end of conference play: on Oct. 31, against nationally ranked No. 5 Snow College in Ephraim, Utah and Nov. 2 against College of Southern Nevada in Henderson, Nev. Following; the Region 18 Tournament will be Nov. 8 and 9 in Ephraim. The National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament will be held Nov. 21 – 23 in Hutchinson, Kan.