Photo by Jeff Barrett
By Calvin Jensen
It was a battle of two of the top programs in the nation Friday night as the 4th ranked Lady Eagles traveled to Ephraim, Utah to take on the 3rd ranked Badgers of Snow College. With ambitions of defeating Snow for the third straight time this season, the Lady Eagles fell just short in an impressive five-set thriller.
There were very few scoring runs by either program throughout the night. Beginning in the first set, the Lady Eagles trailed by just a couple of points before a powerful kill by middle blocker Rachel West tied the game at 22. Another block by West followed by Badger errors gave USU Eastern the first set advantage by a score of 25-23.
The second set was a battle of blocking for USU Eastern as they struggled to penetrate the defensive wall put up by the Badgers and couldn’t match the same intensity on their side of the net. Falling behind early, the Lady Eagles fought back to tie the game up 12-12. Unforced errors allowed Snow to surge ahead and USU Eastern was unable to overcome the deficit, dropping the second set 25-19.
The third set would be one in which both programs will not soon forget. It was a point-for-point battle with multiple lead changes by both teams. The Lady Eagles’ defense stepped up big as the Badgers held a 23-21 lead late in the set. Two big blocks by the Eagles resulted in a 23-23 tie as both teams looked to push for the two-point win. Little did they know the set was far from over as both offenses stepped up their attack on the net, trading kills with one with another. The team able to avoid errors would be the winner with a tied score of 31-31. Outside hitter Kamryn Wiese pounded the ball through a tough block and gained the one-point advantage. A service error by Snow ended the set and gave the Lady Eagles their biggest set score victory ever, 33-31.
The momentum of such an intense set was short lived as poor passing and errors once again plagued USU Eastern for the majority of set four, ending in a 25-19 loss and setting up a tough fifth set showdown on the court of the home team. Trading points, the Lady Eagles gained a 10-8 lead in the first-to-15 contest but a timeout by Snow would be enough to swing the momentum back to the Badgers. The Lady Eagles allowed five straight points by Snow and that run proved costly as Snow College picked up their its win of the season against the USU Eastern by a score of 15-12.
“There were errors made at the most crucial points in the game and that makes defeating a tough program like Snow difficult; that was the difference tonight. We eliminate errors, we win the game,” said head coach Danielle Jensen. “With that said, there were many great things that I saw as the entire team remained unified and kept the energy needed on the court, especially the incredible win in the third set. I also want to thank our fans who filled the seats Friday night, many of whom traveled for hours to support this special team.”
Freshman outside hitter Kamryn Wiese led all scoring with 12 kills and added three blocks against the Badgers. Rachel West had four blocks and Camber Dodson finished the night with 19 assists. Emma Ricks totaled 25 digs and three aces on the night.
The No. 4 Lady Eagles (19-4, 5-2) are ready to play in front of their home crowd after competing in 21 road games over the past six weeks. The Lady Eagles will once again find themselves in the national spotlight as they welcome 13th ranked Salt Lake Community College (11-5, 5-1) to the BDAC on Wednesday, March 17 at 6 p.m. The team looks to avenge an upset by the Bruins who snapped their 14-game winning streak just a few weeks ago. Then, on Friday, they take on an always tough College of Southern Idaho program (10-8, 2-4) at 6 p.m. inside the BDAC.