Photo by Jeff Barrett
By Calvin Jensen, USU Eastern Sports Information Contributor
It was a battle of two nationally-ranked programs inside the BDAC on Saturday. The 17th ranked USU Eastern women’s volleyball team hosted 10th ranked Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) in a crucial matchup with important SWAC standing implications.
In the 3-1 set victory (25-19, 25-20, 23-25 and 25-22), the Lady Eagles refused to let any momentum swing in the Bruins’ favor and applied pressure throughout. The defense thrilled onlookers with an impressive 82 digs, covering the court and digging multiple high speed kill attempts by SLCC. The offense matched the intensity of Salt Lake’s and raised them one as they continued swinging despite 12 blocks from the opposing side; eventually finding the opening and powering through the Bruins’ block.
The Lady Eagles were swept by the Bruins on Sept. 26 in their first conference game of the season. This victory represented how far the team has come as they continue on through their second half of conference play.
“The team wanted the win today. Last time we faced Salt Lake, you could see the team had defeated themselves early on in the game. Since then, they have changed their mindset and have a drive to win. The team pulls on each other for strength instead of turning away and that was huge today as well as our game Thursday against CSI,” said assistant coach Sarah Mafi.
Outside hitter Kiara Richardson again put on a stellar performance as she shattered her old record, putting up 20 kills and an impressive 16 digs on defense. Right side hitter Sunny Perry continues to dominate adding another 19 digs, 11 kills, two blocks and an ace. Kahea Nihipali again protected the net with three blocks, adding eight kills from the middle. Impressive stats on offense wouldn’t be possible without a remarkable setter in Ashlee McUne who ran the court with 41 assists and 16 digs.
When asked about the difference in today’s rematch, setter Ashlee McUne said, “I see a team that has overcome typical girl drama and we have become closer as a family. We worked hard the last few weeks, not only on our fundamental skills, but on our team unity.”
With the win, the Lady Eagles improve to 24-7 overall and 5-2 in conference play. Defeating CSI and SLCC this week also breaks a three-way tie giving the team sole possession of second place in SWAC standings. The Lady Eagles will host Colorado Northwestern this upcoming weekend in their final home game of the season. They will take the court at 1.pm. on Saturday, Oct. 26 in the Bunnell-Dmitrich Athletic Center.