Photo by Jeff Barrett
By Calvin Jensen, USU Eastern Sports Information Contributor
In front of a packed home crowd, the 15th ranked USU Eastern women’s volleyball team swept reigning national champions College of Southern Idaho (CSI) 3-0 on Saturday. This is the second consecutive year in which the Lady Eagles have defeated CSI on their home court, stunning the home fans and picking up a crucial conference win.
In the first set, both teams battled back and forth for the lead. It was a point-for-point battle until CSI took a late set lead of 23-19. After a Lady Eagle timeout, the team came out firing on all cylinders and made an impressive comeback, winning the set 27-25.
The second set was a mirror image of the first with a battle on both sides of the net. Both teams were determined to match their opponent’s points throughout. With the tied score at 25-25, the Lady Eagles defense came up big, allowing the offense to push the two points for another 27-25 win.
Going into the third set with the momentum in USU Eastern’s favor, they continued to fuel the fire, scoring eight straight points and jumping to a 22-13, nine-point lead. CSI then took advantage a few Eagle errors and attempt a run but came up short against a red hot Eagles defense. A 25-18 third set score completed the sweep on the CSI Golden Eagles home court.
With impressive stats spread throughout the starting lineup, outside hitter Kiara Richardson led the offense with an impressive 16 kills and two blocks. Middle blocker Kahea Nihipali played a big role on the net with three blocks, seven kills and an ace. Ashlee McUne fed the offense with 39 assists and was once again the defensive leader with 16 digs. Opposite hitter Sunny Perry added an additional 15 digs to contribute to an exceptional showing by the entire Lady Eagles defense, holding CSI to a .090 hitting%.
An ecstatic Kiara Richardson said, “Today’s game! Holy smokes! We just had so much energy from the start to finish. Every single player, whether on the sidelines or on the court, gave it their all and that’s what made us successful today. The key is to play as a family and to know that we have each other’s back no matter what.”
When asked about the win, head coach Danielle Jensen said, “Picking up a win against a tough CSI program was huge for our team. In the past week, we’ve hit a couple rough patches in the road but we worked through some things as a team and they all came out ready to own the court today. This is the team we’ve seen all preseason and it was great to see them work together for such an important win.”
For the first time under head coach Danielle Jensen and for the first time in school history, the Lady Eagles earn their 20th win in a single season with an impressive 20-6 record. The team will continue conference play on the road this weekend against Colorado Northwest Community College on Saturday, October 5th at 1PM.
With their community and fans eagerly awaiting their conference home opener, The USU Eastern women’s volleyball team will play host to the College of Southern Nevada Coyotes on Thursday, October 10th at 7 p.m. Two days later, the much anticipated matchup against #6 Snow College will play out in the BDAC on Saturday, October 12th at 1 p.m.