West Plains, MO– The #4 ranked and fourth seeded Utah State University Eastern volleyball team made more history Thursday with a 3-0 victory over host Missouri State University West Plains in the NJCAA tournament.
The victory was not without intrigue as the Eagles battled from deficits in each set to claim its first victory in the NJCAA national tournament and earned them a spot in the elite 8 facing five seed Iowa Western tonight at 7:15 MT.
“We knew we were facing a great team,” said head coach Danielle Jensen of the Grizzlies. “They are big, they hit hard and they are very sound. I was very proud of the way our team continued to battle for this win.”
The Eagles tallied 37 kills in the match, led by Rachel West with 8 and Sunny Perry with 7. Libero Emma Ricks tallied 17 digs to lead the Eagles.
“We struggled with nerves a bit early,” said Jensen of the big stage. “Once they settled in, you could feel the confidence come back.
The Eagles had to get over some first-set jitters, falling behind 3-6 early on multiple service errors, before getting their feet under them and cruising to a 25-22 win.
Set two was a battle, falling behind early to Missouri State West Plains 7-14 and 12-19, before mounting a comeback, culminating with two serves from Ricks to complete the 26-24 come-from behind win.
The Eagles cruised through set 3 completing the sweep 25-19 on a much cleaner game for the Eagles.
“I am so proud of this team and what they and Coach Jensen and her staff have done,” said athletic director Scott Madsen. “They are so fun to watch.”