By Ronald Bond

The Observer

Madison Pilon had a pair of double-doubles, Megan Bunn and Kiley McMurtrey twice reached double figures in kills and digs, respectively, and the 10th-ranked Eastern Oregon University women’s volleyball team began the 2019 season with a pair of road victories Friday in Florida.

The Mountaineers opened with a sweep of Webber International in Babson Park, Florida, securing a 25-18, 25-16, 25-16 victory, then worked through some struggles for a four-set victory over Warner University in Lake Wales, winning 25-14, 21-25, 25-23, 25-11.

The Mountaineers used some timely scoring in each set of its sweep over Webber. With EOU holding just a one-point lead in the first set, Hailee Ackerman came up with one of her seven kills to give Eastern a 17-15 lead and start a 7-2 run that put the set out of reach. A block by Bunn and Cambree Scott capped the rally and put EOU ahead 23-17. A Warriors’ attack error three points later ended the set.

Scott had a big hand in helping Eastern take the second set. The sophomore had three kills during an 8-2 run and added a block with Taylor Tibbetts to finish the run and put the Mountaineers up 14-7. Webber got no closer than five points the rest of the set, which ended with a kill by Bunn, who had 11 in the match to lead Eastern.

Webber rallied from four points down to pull even at 15-15 in the third set, then dished up three straight attack errors that started a 10-1 run for EOU and gave Eastern the match. The Mountaineers scored the final seven points, with Bunn collecting two kills and teaming with Scott for a block during the rally.

Bunn had 11 digs to go with her match-best 11 kills. Pilon recorded a match-high 22 assists and 16 digs, and McMurtrey had a match-high 21 digs. Scott added six kills and three block assists. The defense limited Webber to a minus-0.008 kill rate, as the Warriors had 23 kills, but 24 kill errors.

Eastern seemed set to coast to a second sweep of the day after starting the match against Warner on an 11-2 run. EOU scored six straight in the rally, with a kill by Tibbetts and an ace by McMurtrey staking the Mountaineers to the early nine-point edge. Kills by Bunn, Tibbetts and Ackerman during a 6-1 run later made it 22-10, and the Royals pulled no closer than 10 the rest of the set.

Eastern struggled in the second set as it tinkered with lineups and had a tough time in the serve-receive game. The Mountaineers briefly went up 8-7 on a kill by Sade Williams, and the lead reached 14-11 on a kill by Tibbetts.

But the Royals scored the next five points to take a 16-14 lead on a Savanah Griffin ace. Scott had a kill for EOU later to even the score at 17-17 before Warner followed with a 6-1 run and control. Alyssa Muench finished the set with a kill.

The struggles seemed to carry over into a tight third set that had 11 ties and four lead changes. Neither team led by more than two points until Scott had back-to-back kills during a 5-0 run for a 15-11 lead. Two kills by Bunn and a Warner attack error later made it 21-16, but the Royals fought back to pull even at 23-23 on an EOU attack error.

EOU caught a break, though, when the Royals committed back-to-back attack errors out of an Eastern timeout to give the Mountaineers the set.

The Mountaineers rode the momentum in the fourth and put the set — and match — away with a 17-5 run. Two kills by Jet Taylor and an ace from Ackerman put Eastern ahead 13-7, and Scott and Bunn teamed for a block to polish off a 5-0 stretch for an 18-8 lead. Another block from the duo put the Mountaineers up 22-9, and McMurtrey finished things off with an ace — her third of the match.

McMurtrey had 21 digs for the second time on the day. Aspen Christiansen followed with 18, and Pilon had 16 to go with 19 assists. Bunn had 12 digs to lead a balanced effort for EOU. Both Scott and Ackerman followed with eight each, and Tibbetts and Taylor had six.

EOU (2-0 overall) faces Florida Memorial and St. Thomas Tuesday at Miami Gardens.

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