The Lady Eagles opened up the 2018 regular volleyball season schedule over the weekend in Richfield at the Snow College Invitational inside the Sevier Valley Center. The Eagles walked away splitting the weekend’s four games with wins over Eastern Wyoming and Central Wyoming.
After three weeks of preparation, the Eagles were ready to get the ball rolling on Friday with a game against Western Wyoming, which ended in a 3-2 loss.
Sophomore Sarah Mafi led the Eagles in kills with 22 and sophomore Mackenzie Carter had 22 digs with 11 kills against Western Wyoming.
Twenty-five errors were the difference between a win and a loss for the Eagles against Western Wyoming.
“Our serving really hurt us that game and if we could have eliminated those errors and other silly errors, the outcome would have been different,” said USU Eastern head coach Danielle Jensen.
Quickly, the Eagles turned around on Friday and picked up a 3-1 win over Eastern Wyoming. Against Eastern Wyoming, returning conference defensive player of the year Megan Gurr-Wiscombe led the team with 14 digs.
Early on Saturday morning, the Eagles started their day with an impressive 3-0 sweep of Central Wyoming.
Out of the three games in Richfield, the sweep against Central was the only game which USU Eastern had single-digit errors (nine). They averaged 22 errors in the other three games.
Carter and Mafi both had great games on both defense and offense with each player notching 13 kills and 14 digs.
The final game of the tournament on Saturday was a 3-1 loss to a tough Eastern Arizona team.
“They had some strong hitters that got past our block and they put up a solid block. I think those are the two biggest things that helped them pull off the win,” said USU Eastern sophomore Mackenzie Carter.
Ending the weekend with a 2-2 record isn’t exactly what the Eagles wanted but Jensen said that she is optimistic going forward, especially about her team’s chemistry.
“I love the chemistry we have as a team. These girls are getting so close and learning how to trust and play with each other,” said Jensen. “Once we can minimize our errors and find our niche as a team, we are going to be hard to stop.”
Carter said that this weekend’s tournament showed her what her team is capable of doing in 2018.
“This weekend I learned that we have so much talent on this team. We have a few things to work out but the foundation is there,” said Carter.
One of those foundation pieces was freshman setter Siara Roberts. She finished the tournament with 163 assists for the Eagles along with 25 digs.
“She had some great sets and is really settling into her role as our setter,” said coach Jensen.
Carter and Mafi along with freshmen Kiara Richardson and Savannah Scott each filled the stat sheet with at least 20 kills and 20 digs in the tournament.
The Eagles will move forward now to their next weekend tournament down in Prescott, Ariz. They will take part in the Yavapai Tournament and take on four teams in two days, starting with the home team Yavapi College.
Last year in Prescott, the Eagles went 4-0, including two down-to-the-wire games against Yavapai and New Mexico Military, where each game went the full five sets.
The first home game of the season will be on Sept. 21 against Salt Lake Community College.