No. 15 Eastern Oregon gave No. 1 and undefeated Lindsey Wilson all it wanted and then some in their round-of-16 match at the NAIA National Championships Friday morning.
In the end, though, the Blue Raiders had just enough firepower to advance to the quarterfinals, edging the Mountaineers in four sets, 25-15, 27-29, 26-24, 25-22.
The loss brought an end to EOU’s season with a mark of 24-11.
Amanda Miller, one of six seniors who took the court for the final time for Eastern, led the way with 16 kills. Megan Bunn posted 13, and two more seniors, Madisen Garlie and Isabelle Statkus, both had 10 kills.
Yeniffer Ramirez had 17 kills to pace Lindsey Wilson (32-0), while Elly Burke added 15. Four Blue Raiders reached double-figures in kills.
After seeing Lindsey Wilson pull away for the first set victory, EOU showed its fight in the second set, one that featured 17 ties and eight lead changes. The Mountaineers rallied from down 10-6 to take a 15-14 lead on a kill by Garlie. Lindsey Wilson took the lead back, but facing set point, Miller put down a kill to knot the score at 24-all. The teams played to a 27-all tie before Bunn had a kill. Emily Nay and Hailee Ackerman followed with a block on the next point to even the match.
The Mountaineers rode the momentum into the third set, taking a 10-4 lead on a kill by Nay and knocking the Blue Raiders on their heels. The lead held at 13-7 before Lindsey Wilson rallied, eventually taking a 20-19 lead on a kill by Paulina Sobolewska. The teams again battled to a 24-all tie before the Raiders scored the last two points, finishing the set on a kill by Grace Blomstedt.
Miller’s kill early in the fourth set gave EOU a 6-5 lead. The Mountaineers stayed ahead most of the set, and were just five points from sending the match to a fifth set when Garlie’s kill gave Eastern a 20-18 edge. Lindsey Wilson retook the lead at 21-20. Bunn had a kill to tie the score later at 22-all, but the Blue Raiders scored the final three points to move on.
Madison Pilon and Sarah Carpenter both reached double digits in assists, Pilon with 35 and Carpenter with 18. Carpenter also had 10 digs. Kiley McMurtrey led EOU with 32 digs, giving her 72 for the national tournament. Holli Mullins (18) and senior Malia Mills (10) also reached double digits in digs. Statkus and Garlie both had six blocks for EOU.