EOU takes five to beat NNU win
The Mountaineers struggled to win a non-conference home match Tuesday against the Northwest Nazarene Lady Crusaders in five sets (20-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-17 and 15-7).
It took five sets, but Eastern pulled out the win late by winning the final two sets.
According to the coach for the 9-9 Crusaders, his team’s big problem Tuesday was unforced errors. “We had a lot of hitting errors,” he said. “Our setter did a good job and made good choices, but our hitters just couldn’t finish it.”
But the biggest hitting problem was trying to handle Eastern’s Stefani Sorensen at the net. “That number seven just killed us,” Sliger added. Sorensen finished the evening with 21 kills, more than double NNU’s top attacker, Kaitlyn Tuholski, who had just 10.
According to Sliger, his team would also suffer through streaks where their errors would give the Lady Mountaineers points that would eventually pull out the win. “Once you start making errors, you tend to get more careful and tentative — and that can cause even more errors.”
The win improved the Lady Mountaineers’ overall record to 14-6 for the season.
But the home team was struggling most of the evening, trying to handle the visiting Lady Crusaders from Nampa, Idaho.
“Tonight was a great win for Mountie volleyball,” said EOU coach Kaki Moorhead. “We took advantage of the opportunity to work on some things that we really needed to and we accomplished them.
“That was exactly the momentum we needed for this weekend and the level of play we will need to have continued success,” the EOU coach added.
Getting that momentum took a little time Tuesday, as the Mounties dropped the first and third games to the Crusaders.
The Mounties fell behind, dropping the first set of the evening on their home court by a 25-20 margin. EOU had closed the NNU lead to 22-20 on a kill by Sorenson.
The visitors scored the final three points on a kill and two attack errors by the Lady Mountaineers.
Rebecca Haight’s kill had given EOU a 17-16 lead in the first game, only to have NNU score five straight points -- three tied to EOU Attack errors.
In the second set, the Lady Mountaineers started off strongly and held the lead most of the game, but allowed the visitors from NNU to close the gap before grabbing a narrow 25-22 triumph that evened the match with one victory apiece.
NNU jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead, but the Mountaineers rallied to tie the game at 5-all.
Eastern moved out to a 12-7 lead, but NNU rallied to tie the game again at 15, 16 and 18.
With the game tied at 20, the Mountaineers rallied with two quick scores to build a 22-20 lead, only to see it cut to one again.
A long hit out of bounds by NNU gave the Mountaineers a 23-21 lead, but Eastern gave up two on attempted kills that went out of bounds.
Tied at 23, the Mountaineers called a timeout, but the visitors from Nampa came right back and scored two points to claim the win. The four straight Northwest Nazarene points gave the team a 2-1 edge in the match.
In the fourth game, Northwest Nazarene scored the first point, but the Mountaineers came back immediately to tie it.
Eastern took its first lead off a kill for a 4-3 advantage, but the visitors quickly tied it again.
After NNU gave up a point on a bad serve that went out of bounds, an ace by Haight made it 6-4. A bad hit and a 7-4 forced the NNU coach to call for a timeout.
NNU rallied after the time with a quick score, but a kill by Taylor Stewart slammed it into the back row.
The Mountaineers made it a 9-6 lead, but the NNU team kept coming back, with two scores to tie the game at 9-all.
A slam by Alisha Crane gave EOU a 13-11 lead, and sparked the team to another score before NNU rallied to cut the score to two points.
Another Crane kill made the score 17-13, before the NNU squad started another rally. NNU gave up three quick points in succession, one of them bringing the visiting coach to his feet voicing his disbelief about quality of the officiating.
He called a timeout with the score 20-14. The Mountaineers would score again before the visitors. Ahead by a 22-15 margin, a third hit into the right corner by NNU’s Kathryn Burgeson cut the score to 22-16. A NNU kill made it closer, 22-17, but the Mountaineers responded with a E13 kill and a block to take a 24-17 lead.
A serve by Casey Loper that went into the net and rolled over into the Lady Crusaders court gave Eastern the set and tied the score at 2-2.
NNU scored first, but a kill by E7 helped tie the score at 2-all. A long hit later would tie it again at 3 and block would give the Mountaineers a 4-3 lead.
Anothe long hit from the NNU front line made the score 5-3 and it was repeated again and again to give the Mounties a 7-3 lead before the Crusaders’ coach called for a time out.
A hammer kill by Stefani Sorenson gave the Mounties an 8-4 lead.
A quick kill by Loper made the score 11-7 and a kill down the left line made it a 12-7 lead before the Crusaders called another time out to regroup.
A kill by Loper made it 13-7 and a dink by Stewart made it game point and set up the team to claim a 15-7 win in the final set for a 3-2 victory.
Karly Stack finished the evening with 30 assists, while Bobbi Sumpter had 28 more.
Kaitlyn Duncan finished with 30 of her team’s 76 digs. Haight had 16 digs, while the visiting Crusaders had a team total of 78 digs.
Irene Walters had 12 kills, while Stewart and Loper both had 10 kills each.
Haight and Loper finished the evening with three aces each from the serving line.
The Lady Mountaineers will again be playing in Quin Coliseum Friday when Northwest University comes to La Grande for a 7 p.m. Cascade Collegiate Conference showdown. The Evergreen Geoducks will challenge the Mountaineers in Quinn Coliseum Saturday at 7 p.m.
The victory didn’t change the Mountaineers standing in the Cascade Conference, with College of Idaho still undefeated at 11-0 (14-4 overall), two games ahead of Southern Oregon (9-2) in second (13-8 for the season). EOU is third with a 7-4 conference mark that tied them with Concordia (7-4).