Eastern Oregon volleyball teammates Nina Bailey and Jet Taylor both see themselves as energy-boosting players.
The Mountaineer newcomers came off the bench in the second set to give No. 13 Eastern the jolt it needed to overcome an off night against Warner Pacific Friday in Cascade Collegiate Conference play at Quinn Coliseum.
Bailey had six kills and six block assists, Taylor added eight block assists and EOU rebounded from a first-set loss to defeat the Knights, 24-26, 25-19, 25-21, 25-17.
“I tried to put some people on the floor who were energy producers,” EOU Head Coach Kaki McLean-Morehead said. “It was a little dead, and we needed some energy. Nina and Jet definitely both came in and did that for us.”
Eastern found itself down 10-5 in the first set, and though EOU rallied to take a four-point lead late, it was a block by WPU’s Lauren Jones and Macy DuCoeur that gave the Knights the first-set shocker.
Bailey provided a jumpstart the moment she stepped on the floor in the second set. The junior teamed with Cambree Scott for a block on her first play, then followed with a kill. The plays were key in a 7-0 run that gave the Mountaineers a 9-2 lead in the set.
“Jet (and I) always say all the time when we get our moment, we’re going to let it shine,” Bailey said. “I think we both pump each other up. We lift each other and (say), ‘We’re going to get this ball. Let’s do this.’”
Eastern built as much as an 11-point lead in the second set, and finished it with a block by Taylor Tibbetts and Allyson Crisp.
Jet Taylor, who came on late in the second set, brought her own burst in the third, getting an early block along with Megan Bunn for a 5-3 lead.
“One of the things I like to live by as a player is being an energy producer, being an energizer bunny,” Taylor said. “Whenever I get my shots on the floor, I like to come in and make that kind of difference energy wise. That’s something you can always control.”
The EOU spark plugs then started teaming up — both in the play and on the energy level. Bailey and Taylor’s combined block and a pair of Bailey kills kept EOU ahead, 9-8, in the third. Both had kills — each leaping in celebration after the kill to fire up their team — during a 4-1 run later to give Eastern some separation at 19-15, then the pair capped the set with a combination block for a 2-1 lead.
“When I get a block, I’ll jump on (my teammates) or I’ll shove them, just (to give) an extra ‘Let’s go,’” Bailey said.
Eastern’s blocking, which has improved as the season progressed, was solid in the deciding fourth set. The Mountaineers had six blocks, with Taylor and Bailey’s imprint again visible. EOU took control of the fourth set with an 8-1 run that included four blocks, three of which came from Bailey and Taylor and the fourth from Megan Bunn and Taylor.
“That was so fun,” Taylor said. “(It) felt like a well-oiled machine in the front row. I felt like everything was flowing and working. One thing we’ve been focusing huge on all season, but especially this week in practice, is blocking the ball. I feel like we definitely got that done in the fourth set.”
The block party was contagious, too. Taylor and Tibbetts later teamed up for a block for an 18-10 lead, and Tibbetts and Crisp finished the match minutes later with a block.
“We tried to make some changes, and the girls definitely honed in on a couple of those changes,” McLean-Morehead said of the improved block in the fourth set. “That definitely helped.”
Bunn led Eastern with 11 kills and added 12 digs. Kiley McMurtrey led EOU with 21 digs, and both Aspen Christiansen and Sarah Carpenter had 12 digs. Carpenter also had 20 assists. Tibbetts added five block assists.
Mountaineers handle Multnomah
Eastern didn’t need an extra boost Saturday night as it rolled over Multnomah, 25-17, 25-14, 25-17.
Bunn and Hailee Ackerman led the attack with nine and eight kills, respectively. McMurtrey led the defense with 13 digs, and both Taylor and Crisp had three block assists. Madison Pilon dished out 17 assists, and Carpenter added 15 assists and eight digs.
EOU (17-5 overall, 12-2 CCC) visits Northwest Friday in Kirkland, Washington.