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BLOCK PARTY: EOU's Keri Brown (6) and Jana Brotherton go up for a block against OIT's Megan Albetson during Saturday's match. (The Observer/Tony Adame).
BLOCK PARTY: EOU's Keri Brown (6) and Jana Brotherton go up for a block against OIT's Megan Albetson during Saturday's match. (The Observer/Tony Adame).

Tony Adame

Staff Writer

It's the duty of any coach to put a positive spin on a negative situation.

After Saturday's season ending, 30-19, 31-29, 30-26 loss to Oregon Institute of Technology, consider Eastern Oregon Univ-ersity volleyball coach Ryan Platt the spin-master.

"If we would've played like we did against Southern, I think we might have been able to win tonight," Platt said, referring to Friday's loss to Cascade Colleg-iate Conference champion South-ern Oregon University.

EOU ended the season 4-18 overrall and 4-14 in CCC play. OIT improved its record to 14-11 overall and 11-7 heading into the conference playoffs.

On Senior Night at EOU, the Mountaineers never led in the first game and were ahead only once in the third game, 1-0. The Owls were led by Marcie Mitzner and Melissa Frank, who each had 10 kills.

In the second game, EOU, led by Jana Brotherton, led 12-7 early, but OIT fought back to take the lead at 20-19. The Mountaineers tied the score at 23, 24, 25, 27, 28 and 29 before losing 31-29.

"It was a really hard loss," Brotherton said. "The last two years have been a great experience and it would have been nice to end the season with a win."

Brotherton finished with 10 kills.

EOU seniors Kaki McLean, Bina Hegtvedt and assistant coach Heather Runke were honored before the game. McLean led the Mountaineers against OIT with 11 kills in her final match.

"We didn't come out with a unified expectation to win like we needed to," McLean said. "Next year, with the experience from this season, I think the team will come to expect to win more."

Platt stated that being able to now participate under NAIA off-season rules instead of NCAA guidelines for the first time in three years will play a major factor in any EOU future success.

"The difference the last three years between us and other schools has been really obvious," Platt said. "Now, we can get the girls into one or two dozen matches in the spring, which was a no-no under NCAA rules."

Brotherton, who EOU will rely heavily on next year in the absence of two-time CCC all-star McLean, said she was looking forward to the new regimen.

"It's gonna be great," Brother-ton said. "Having all off-season to get ready should help us a lot."

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