Photos by Jeff Barrett
By Calvin Jensen
The 4th ranked USU Eastern women’s volleyball team welcomed the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) to the BDAC on Friday night. After a slow start for Eastern, the Lady Eagles began to run their routes and protect their court, defeating the Golden Eagles of Southern Idaho 3-1.
Eastern shot out to an 8-2 lead in the first set, which initiated an early timeout by CSI. Once again, the timeout accomplished its purpose and slowed down the energy of USU Eastern, giving way to a 8-0 run by the Golden Eagles. Multiple lead changes followed as eventually CSI broke away and took a 24-21 set point lead. USU Eastern refused to roll over and scored three straight points, tying the game at 24-24.
Outside hitter Kamryn Wiese’s kill allowed for a one-point advantage that was quickly repaid by the Golden Eagles, tying the game at 25 all. Freshman Rachel West protected the net with a powerful block, which was quickly paid back by CSI. A smart move by freshman Lindsey Otero in tipping to the open corner of the court and a hitting error by the Golden Eagles gave USU Eastern the set win by a score of 28-26.
The second set swung CSI’s way as they took at 8-4 advantage early on and never allowed Eastern to make up the difference as they evened up the game 1-1 with a second set score of 25-19.
Following an intense break between sets and a fiery speech from head coach Danielle Jensen, the Lady Eagles responded accordingly and were able to make the adjustments needed to unify and dominate in the remaining two sets, 25-18 and 25-17.
“I need the team to make a statement and play their game from the minute they step on the court,” said head coach Danielle Jensen. “We can’t wait until we find ourselves in trouble to step up and get the win. However, I am amazed at their determination and mental toughness in high stress situations, which is a very good quality to have in such a competitive conference as ours.”
She continued, “We have found ourselves in overtime situations several times this year and our team has come out on top each time. Part of that energy comes from a bench that gives 100% in generating energy for those on the court. Each player on this team has had a significant role in what has been accomplished this season, whether it be in a game or in practice.”
USU Eastern had its most impressive teamwork to date on both the offensive and defensive side of the net against CSI. Outside hitters Alyssa Simmons and Kamryn Wiese each scored 13 kills against Southern Idaho with middle blocker Rachel West and right side Sunny Perry close behind with 11 kills of their own.
Middle blockers Kahea Nihipali and Rachel West were both huge defenders of the net, racking up eight blocks a piece followed by Lindsey Otero, who added another five. Setter Camber Dodson’s had a stellar performance, which allowed for the impressive offensive display with 29 assists on the night. Libero Emma Ricks continued to add to her national lead with 29 digs.
“Those stats are exactly what we need to see as we finish out conference play. Each of them stepped up and we were able to be effective across the entire net during the game, which makes us extremely hard to compete with,” added Jensen.
The Lady Eagles’ last regular season game this Friday at home, as well as the matchup between #3 Snow and #13 Salt Lake on Wednesday night, will have significant implications on current Scenic West standings in the final week of conference play. #4 USU Eastern (21-4, 7-2) is currently tied with #13 Salt Lake Community College (12-6, 6-2) in second place while #3 Snow College (19-2, 7-1) holds the first place spot. College of Southern Nevada COVID protocols have canceled their remaining games this week.
USU Eastern (21-4, 7-2) will close out the Scenic West regular season in a must-win competition against Colorado Northwestern Community College (5-14, 1-8) in the BDAC. Fans can cheer on the nationally-ranked Lady Eagles in their final home game this Friday, March 26 at 6 p.m as the program celebrates sophomore night.