December 9, 2023

Eagles Place 2nd in Region XVIII SWAC

No. 8, Sunny Perry, serving volleyball to opposing team.

Makell LovelessSports writer

No. 12 Utah State University Eastern Eagles finishes its Region 18 Scenic West Athletic conference in second place after a devastating loss in the Championship game against No. 5 Snow College on Nov. 9. Six USUE volleyball players were named to region 18 all conference teams, recipients were: Kiara Richardson, Sunny Perry, Breanne Bitter, Avery Best, Kahea Nihipali and Freshman-setter Ashlee McUne who had 1,427 assists, ranking second in the nation. USUE ended with an overall record of 27-8.

            With two games left in the conference before region, the Eagles headed to Ephraim, Utah, Oct. 31 to battle No. 5 Snow College. In the first set of the game, the Eagles were able to match the Badgers momentum keeping a point-for-point score. In the end, Snow was able to gain a lead and won the set 25-20.

            In the second set, USUE struggled to get a hold of the ball as Snow College press tension on their offense throughout the set. In an effort to come back, the Eagles tried different tactics but were not able to make a come back and lost the second set 25-11.

            The Eagles came back out determined in the third set and took an early lead. They were able to stay ahead of the Badgers, causing them to call a few timeouts. The Eagles ended the third set 25-22 gaining a win against the Badgers.

            In a close final set, USUE continued to apply pressure against Snow, leading most of the set. What was almost a five set game, ended when the Eagles faulted to errors, 32 overall while Snow only had 16, caused the eagles to fall to the Badgers 27-25.

            Leading players of the game were Bitter, 15 kills; MuCune, one ace and 45 assists; Alyssa Simmons, two blocks and Emma Ricks 21 digs.

            Badgers def. Eagles 25-20, 25-11, 22-25, 27-25.

            TheEagles last game in their conference was Nov. 2 in Henderson, Nev. against College of Southern Nevada. In the first set, the Coyotes were able to advance over the Eagles 25-19.

            In the second and third set, USUE took back the upper hand 25-21.

            In the short-fourth-set, the Eagles finished the set 25-7 winning the game 3-1.

            Leading players of the game were Bitter, 14 kills; Ricks, four aces; Nihipali, four blocks; McUne, 45 assists and Perry, 19 digs.

            Eagles def. Coyotes 19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-7.

            With the conference season over, the Eagles headed into its Region 18 tournament in Ephraim, Utah, Nov. 8 and 9. USUE first game was against defending champions College of Southern Idaho. In the first set the Eagles were able to continue overpowering CSI and took the first set 25-22.

            While in the second and third set, CSI managed to gain the upper hand and take advantage of USUE errors. CSI now controlled the game 2-1.

            In the fourth set, CSI held the lead in the beginning of the set but the Eagles made an amazing turnaround after losing the two previous sets and showed amazing teamwork and communicating helping them take the fourth set 25-19.

            With both teams tied 2-2 in sets, they would play into a fifth and final set to 15 points. The Eagles knew it was critical to receive a win against CSI to advance in the SWAC. Both teams played point-for-point. Motivated and with a crowd cheering behind them, the Eagles advanced against CSI winning the set 15-7 and the game 3-2.

Leading players of the gamer were Perry, 19 kills; McUne, two aces and 47 assists; Simmons, four blocks and Ricks 22 digs.

Eagles def. Golden Eagles 25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 15-7.

In the Championship game, the Eagle had to face its ultimate rival, Snow College. In the close first set, the Eagles lost by two points ending the set 25-23.

            The young USUE team was determined to show they could compete against anyone. Not only did they amaze everyone in the second set against the Badgers when they overcame their enemy 25-21, but took the third set from the Badgers 25-21, making the score 2-1 for the Eagles.

            The Eagles drive lessened in the fourth set causing Snow to gain the lead. However, the Eagles were able to tie the score 25-25. Fans now on their feet, the Eagles advanced 26-25 against the Badgers, but were not able to keep possession of the ball. Because of this downside, the Eagles lost the fourth set 26-28 and resulted in the sets being tied 2-2 between the teams.

            In the last set of the game, USUE fought hard against Snow, but came up short. The Badgers would steal the set 15-11 and take the game.

Leading players of the game were Richardson, 19 kills; aces? McUne, 41 assists; Nihipali, seven blocks and Ricks, 22 digs.

Badgers def. Eagles 25-23, 21-25, 21-25, 28-26, 15-11.

The Eagles have submitted their application to play at the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament, which will be held Nov. 21 – 23 in Hutchinson, Kan.