No. 3 Emma Grant gets ready to serve in a game.
The No. 16 USU Eastern women’s volleyball team has faced tough competition to begin the 2023 campaign. An 8-5 start to non-conference play has been highlighted by a win over nationally ranked No. 13 Eastern Arizona. Recently, the Lady Eagles hosted the Castle Country Classic, the first hosted volleyball tournament in USU Eastern athletics history.
In the first matchup of the tournament, the Lady Eagles faced conference foe Colorado Northwestern Community College out of Rangely, Colorado. With set scores of 25-8, 25-17, and 25-10 Eastern swept the Spartans setting the tone for the rest of the weekend. Freshman right side hitter Lauren Hamilton led all scorers with seven kills and four blocks followed by freshman outside hitter Kelsy Stanger who added six kills with an impressive .750 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Paige Shumway and freshman outside hitter Oliwia Suboczewska had 18 digs respectively.
The highlighted game of the tournament would follow Friday evening as No. 16 USU Eastern would face No. 13 ranked Eastern Arizona in a much-anticipated matchup. The Lady Eagles met the Gila Monsters with focused energy and would never let up throughout the contest. In one of the programs best performances inside the BDAC, USU Eastern swept Eastern Arizona with set scores of 25-15, 27-25, and 25-22.
Freshman outside hitter Emma Grant was relentless on the offensive attack racking up 11 kills with an impressive .435 hitting percentage. The court was controlled by freshman setter Agata Makowska who chalked up 30 assists while the net was protected with 18 blocks led by sophomore middle blockers Rachel West and Casidy Fried with five a piece. Creating opportunities for her team to score throughout the night was Paige Shumway who had 17 digs in a remarkable defensive performance.
On Saturday, Eastern would face Northwest College out of Powell, Wyoming in their third matchup of the tournament. Complacency in the second set allowed the Trappers a victory, however, Eastern would answer back immediately to seal the deal in their third victory of the weekend with set scores of 25-16, 19-25, 25-14, and 25-15.
Kelsy Stanger and Casidy Fried each had 10 kills in the victory against the Trappers. Blocking continues to be a huge part of the Lady Eagle’s success as Lauren Hamilton put up eight blocks with Rachel Westadding seven of her own. Paige Shumway had a season high 24 digs defensively and Agata Makowska had 27 assists in the game.
In their final matchup of the weekend, Utah State Eastern swept the Aztecs of Pima, Arizona with set scores of 25-21, 25-23, and 25-19.
Emma Grant again dominated offensively with 13 kills and a hitting percentage of .379. Agata Makowska set a season high 37 assists to allow for the impressive offensive performance by the team and Paige Shumway bested her previous season high in the game prior with 28 digs. Casidy Friedcontinues to be a wall on the net with 4 blocks in the contest.
USU Eastern (8-5) will travel to Twin Falls, Idaho to take part in the Starr Invitational hosted by the College of Southern Idaho. There they will take on Central Wyoming Community College, Providence University, Casper College, starting with Western Wyoming Community College on Friday, Sep. 8 at 3:00 p.m.