Eastern Oregon survived a five-set battle against Oregon Tech Friday night, then had to turn around for a Saturday matinee against rival Southern Oregon.
No problem at all for the Mountaineers.
Megan Bunn had 11 kills Amanda Miller added nine one night after recording her career high, and No. 14 EOU completed a perfect homecoming weekend with a sweep of the Raiders, 25-15, 25-12, 25-19, in Cascade Collegiate Conference play at Quinn Coliseum.
“I think the biggest thing was we played a lot more consistently today than we did (Friday) night,” head coach Kaki McLean-Morehead said. “(Friday) we were a little bit of a roller coaster as far as being consistent and accomplishing some certain things that we wanted to accomplish. As far as that goes, we did a better job of that today. Not discrediting OIT in any way, but I thought that we played much more consistently today.”
The win continued what has been a recent string of dominance against their rivals. EOU has won the last seven matches against SOU, five of which were sweeps.
“We definitely found our way to beat them,” Miller said. “We know what we need to do to beat Southern. We know we needed to get them out of system and make their
defense move. They are a good team. We figured out a way to top them.”
EOU did it Saturday with what has become a staple in its wins — a balanced attack. In addition to Bunn and Miller’s effort, Isabelle Statkus added eight kills and Hailee Ackerman chipped in with six. Eastern also hit .365 for its second-highest attack percentage of the season.
“I think the setters are moving the ball around a lot, and that’s what hurts the other team is they’re unable to move their block efficiently (and) move from pin to pin,” Statkus said of Eastern’s attack.
The Mountaineers put the first set out of reach with an 8-1 run. Started it with a kill for a 16-12 edge, and Emily Nay and Miller had back-to-back kills to cap the run for a 23-13 lead.
EOU used two big runs — one at the start and one at the end — to dominate in the second set. An attack error by the Raiders gave Eastern an early 9-2 lead. After SOU closed to within 12-8 on a block by Elliott Cook and Dani Johnson, the Mountaineers went on a 12-2 tear. Statkus had three kills early in the run and teamed with Madisen Garlie for a block. Bunn made it 19-10 with a kill, and Miller extended the lead to 24-10 with another kill.
SOU led throughout much of the third, going up as late as 15-13 on an attack error by Miller. Statkus’ kill made it 17-16 Eastern, and Ackerman had back-to-back kills to start a match ending 7-1 run.
“We’ve been working a lot on using the block in practice, and I thought that our hitters did a great job of doing tha and were very effective doing that,” McLean-Morehead said.
Madison Pilon dished out 19 assists for EOU and Abby Smith added 13. Kiley McMurtrey and Aspen Christiansen had eight digs apiece, Malia Mills collected seven. Garlie had six blocks. Statkus chipped in four.
Taylor Ristvedt led the Raiders with 12 kills.
Miller had career-best 24 kills, Garlie had 11 kills and six blocks and the Mountaineers staved off an upset-minded OIT squad, 21-25, 25-15, 27-25, 19-25, 15-11.
Bunn added 10 kills and six blocks as EOU avenged an earlier loss to the Owls.
“We did have a little bit of revenge in our eyes,” Miller said. “They swept us in their gym, and we were not about to let them take another one from us, especially in our gym on homecoming. We wanted it really bad and we showed resilience to get it.”
Eastern never trailed in the decisive fifth set. Nay and Bunn teamed for a block for an 8-4 lead. Miller, Nay, Statkus and Garlie all added kills to help EOU to a 12-9 lead. Garlie had another kill later to force match point before she teamed with Bunn for a block to win the match.
“OIT definitely played us really, really tough, and was everywhere on defense,” McLean-Morehead said. “I thought that in the end, we did a great job of blocking what we needed to.”
McMirtrey had 31 digs in the match, Mills collected 19. Pilon had 28 assists and Smith added 27.
The sweep kept EOU alone in second place in the CCC at 10-2, half a game behind Corban (11-2) and one game ahead of College of Idaho (9-3), which lost to SOU Friday night.
“I think we’re going to have to work really hard,” Statkus said of the focus down the stretch. “We’re going to make sure we’re applying to the games what were doing in practice.”
EOU (16-5 overall) travels to Warner Pacific Friday.