FROM STAFF AND NEWS
The nagging futility streak finally ended Monday night for the Eastern Washington University volleyball team, which saw its 22-game losing streak come to an end at Reese Court.
The Eagles swept past Sacramento State 3-0 with wins of 29-27, 25-18, 25-22 in Big Sky Conference play to earn their first victory of what has been a long, long season.
“I was so impressed with their composure,” interim head coach Lisa Westlake said. “For the girls it was (getting) a gorilla off their back, it was even bigger than a monkey, really.”
With the win, Eastern (1-22, 1-11 Big Sky) snapped a school-record 26-match losing streak that dated back to Nov. 5, 2011. The Hornets fall to 7-15 on the year and 3-9 in Big Sky play.
Eastern will look to extend the positive streak when the Eagles take on Montana (4-8, 6-15) tonight (Thursday, Oct. 25) at 7 p.m. at Reese Court. The Eagles follow that hosting Montana State (6-6, 12-8) Saturday.
Senior Cora Kellerman led EWU with 15 kills and 17 digs, marking her sixth double-double of the season. Ten of Kellerman’s 15 kills came in the critical first set.
“As a senior, Cora really rose to the occasion,” Westlake said. “She made a statement by hitting that well in the first set. It was like a domino effect, and everybody else just caught the wave.”
After being predicted to finish as high as third in preseason polling, the 2012 season got off to a rocky start for the Eagles with the sudden resignation Aug. 28 of head coach Miles Kydd and critical injuries, including a torn ACL to starting setter Lindsay Niemeier.
“I am so proud of them,” Westlake said. “In our pregame meeting tonight, we talked about everybody taking care of their business, and not worrying about anybody else.
Eastern quickly seized momentum Monday, as the Eagles jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the first set behind three-consecutive kills from Kellerman and an ace by freshman Allison Doerpinghaus.
Sac State scored 16 of the next 24 points to take a 22-20 lead but a timeout refocused things.
Kellerman rattled off her 10th kill of the set to give Eastern a 28-27 edge. A tough serve from Doerpinghaus led to an errant set by the Hornets, and the Eagles celebrated their first first-set victory of the season, 29-27.
The second set proved to be equally nerve-racking with 11 ties and six lead changes. But with the score knotted at 16, Eastern went on a 7-1 run, sparked by a huge block from Doerpinghaus and sophomore Kelsey Julian.
“Allison went in on a mission to block balls,” Westlake said.
With a 23-17 advantage in the second set, Eastern gave up just one more point before freshman Allie Schumacher put it away with a back-to-back kill and service ace for the 25-18 victory.
After falling behind 7-6 in the third set, Eastern scored six unanswered points to take a 12-7 lead, which it did not relinquish the rest of the way. Doerpinghaus had four kills and four blocks in the final set, while Kellerman and redshirt-freshman Kellen Barfield added three kills apiece in the 25-22 win.
Senior setter Laney Brown had a stellar night with a season-high five blocks and three kills, to go along with 33 assists and seven digs.
“Laney ran the middle immediately, which told the other team we were a threat in the middle,” Westlake said. “That opens up our outside, and the whole offense starts clicking from there.”