USUE Volleyball Wows Fans in Home Opener *Photo Gallery*


Calvin Jensen, USU Eastern Volleyball

The USU Eastern women’s volleyball team wowed their hometown crowd on Monday night in their home opener against Eastern Arizona Community College. After suffering two of their losses last season to the Gila Monsters, the Lady Eagles knew the tough competition they would be facing.

In the first set, the Eagles struggled to organize their defense and Eastern Arizona took advantage of the Eagles’ errors. They were unable gain momentum offensively and Eastern Arizona took control of set one, defeating USU Eastern with a score of 25-18.

The Eagles came out ready to battle in the second set and traded point for point with the Gila Monsters throughout the entire set. After making adjustments, they were able to put up a block against the offense, which took away any momentum Eastern Arizona tried to establish. In a battle for the set win, USU Eastern held out and was able to come away with a 26-24 thrilling victory.

The third set was just as riveting with the score tied point for point throughout, with both teams vying for the lead in the best of five set contest. Both teams ran up the score with the Eagles pushing strong in the end to finish with a long winded score of 30-28.

“The pep talk after losing the first set gave everyone the confidence and excitement to carry us into the following sets. We knew what we needed to focus on and once we did that, we were able to just go out and have fun with it,” said middle blocker Alyssa Simmons.

With all the momentum in their favor, USU Eastern came out ready to close out the game and jumped to a 7-1 lead, forcing an early Eastern Arizona timeout, knowing a loss in this set would end the game. After the timeout, the Eagles continued to put pressure on the Gila Monsters and surged ahead with an eight-point, 20-12 lead. Following another Eastern Arizona timeout, the Eagles errors allowed a change in momentum in Eastern Arizona’s favor, leading to a unexpected tied game at 24-24. With dedicated fans cheering them on, the USU Eastern Lady Eagles finished strong and defeated Eastern Arizona 26-24.

“We really needed that win and although there were a lot of things we learned that will need improvement, I am so proud of these ladies and their fight to win. Momentum is everything and it was so fun to watch them finish out three close sets on our home court,” said head coach Danielle Jensen.

The team contributes their hard work in practice to their early success. “Confidence in the training we have received allowed us to keep swinging hard in those tight moments. There was never a time on the court where I felt my team drop energy out of fear of losing. The only outcome we were going to settle for was the win,” said defensive specialist Emma Ricks.

With another contest against Eastern Arizona scheduled on Labor Day, the Lady Eagles know what lies ahead. “Eastern Arizona is a well-coached team and when we play them next week on their court, they will be ready for us. If we can eliminate our errors and work on a few things in our practice and games this week, I know we will be ready for the rematch,” said Jensen.

The Eagles have one day of practice at home before a seven games in seven days road trip throughout Arizona, which will include three nationally-ranked programs (DI #20 Arizona Western, DII #6 South Mountain, DII #10 Glendale).

Leaders for this game included OH-Breanne Bitter 13 kills, DS-Emma Ricks 14 digs, S-Ashlee McUne 50 assists and  MB-Kahea Nihipali five blocks.

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