Photos by Jeff Barrett
By Calvin Jensen
In the biggest home game in program history, the third ranked USU Eastern women ‘s volleyball team faced second ranked Snow College Wednesday night. With a sold out crowd inside the BDAC, the Lady Eagles gave their fans something to cheer about.
In the first set, the Lady Eagles shot out to a 4-0 start, but that lead quickly dwindled as the team struggled to execute at the net. With the momentum back and forth, the Lady Eagles found themselves with a 20-16 advantage with the help of Rachel West’s heavy arm and powerful presence on the front row. However, errors would once again plague the Lady Eagles, allowing Snow to creep back in and ultimately defeat USU Eastern in the first set, 25-23.
Knowing a second set win would be crucial in their chance of upsetting the Badgers, the Lady Eagles shot out to a 7-2 lead. Halfway through, the Badgers slowly gained on USU Eastern and eventually took the lead 13-12. A point-for-point battle began and with the game tied 22-22, right side hitter Sunny Perry hammered down the kills and propelled the team to a 25-23 second set win.
The caliber of the two programs was evident in the third set as both teams traded points with one another with no significant lead earned by either team. A dig and immediate block by West welcomed new momentum on the court and the Lady Eagles capitalized on that momentum as Kahea Nihipali took her turn, dominating on the offensive and defensive side of the net. That momentum would pave the way for a 25-22 third set win.
Going to a tie-breaking fifth set was not an option for the Lady Eagles as they were determined to make a statement. The defense stepped up at the right moment with crucial digs by Emma Ricks and Kennedy Poulton. A noticeable change in focus by the Lady Eagles late in the fourth set allowed USU Eastern to take a significant advantage led by outside hitters Alyssa Simmons and Kamryn Wiese. Although the Badgers once again made a late run, the Lady Eagles indeed made a statement as they defeated second ranked Snow College with a fourth set score of 25-19.
“The girls have worked so incredibly hard to prepare for this game and I couldn’t be prouder. They bring so much energy to the court,” said head coach Danielle Jensen. “In 17 games, I have yet to see any signs of quitting when we find ourselves down, which is remarkable. The crowd was amazing tonight and we are so thankful for the support that we receive from our community; it makes such a big difference for our team and I hope we gave our fans their money’s worth tonight.”
Freshman outside hitter Kamryn Wiese led the Eagles with 15 kills in the matchup followed by 12 kills from freshman middle blocker Rachel West and 12 from sophomore right side Sunny Perry. West also dominated at the net with seven blocks while sophomore middle blocker Kahea Nihipali added five on the night. Freshman setter Camber Dodson had 23 assists with sophomore Avery Best contributing 20. Protecting the court was sophomore libero Emma Ricks with 10 digs with Alyssa Simmons close behind with eight.