Eastern Oregon got the win it needed Wednesday to reach bracket play at the NAIA National Championships in Sioux City, Iowa, sweeping Our Lady of the Lake (Tex.) Wednesday, 25-19, 25-17, 25-19 in pool play.
The victory, coupled with a win by No. 2 Viterbo (Wisc.) in the other pool play match, guaranteed the No. 15 Mountaineers a berth into the round of 16, which begins Friday. Eastern (24-10 overall) opens bracket play against No. 1 Lindsey Wilson.
The Mountaineers wrapped up pool play with a straight-set loss to Viterbo Thursday, 25-20, 25-18, 25-18, to finish pool play 2-1.
Eastern once again had a balanced attack against the Saints in Wednesday’s win, led by senior Emily Nay, who had nine kills. Both Madisen Garlie and Megan Bunn recorded eight kills, and Amanda Miller added seven kills. Nay had a .538 kill percentage to lead EOU’s .333 attack rate.
Madison Pilon led the team in assists for the second straight day with 23, and Sarah Carpenter added 12 assists. Kiley McMurtrey had 13 digs to anchor the back row defense. Malia Mills added nine digs and Pilon had eight as Eastern tallied 52 digs on the match. Garlie led the front row with four blocks, and also served up four aces.
Raven Swain had nine kills to lead OLLU, but the Saints recorded just a .112 attack percentage.
A 7-0 run in the first set by EOU gave the Mountaineers a 13-4 lead. The Mountaineers, who never trailed in the opening set, finished with a kill by Garlie.
The Mountaineers posted a .550 kill rate in the second set, and broke the set open late with a 7-1 run, taking a 23-15 lead on a kill by Amy Arnzen. Garlie added another kill late, and Eastern took the set when Swain misfired on a serve.
One more run, this time a 7-2 count, gave EOU the lead for good in the third set and broke a 12-all tie. EOU went up 16-12 on a kill by Hailee Ackerman, and later 19-14 on Garlie’s ace. Garlie and Arnzen finished off the match later with a block.
EOU’s hope for a spotless run through pool play ended at the hands of the V-Hawks, who moved to 37-1 with their sweep of the Mountaineers Thursday afternoon.
Maya Roberts and Natalie Geidel led Viterbo with 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Amelia Grahn had match highs with 30 assists and 20 digs.
Garlie and Miller both paced EOU’s attack with nine kills each, while Bunn and Isabelle Statkus each added eight kills. The Mountaineers, though, hit at just a .112 clip, due in large part to Viterbo’s defense collecting 67 digs.
Pilon led EOU with 29 assists. McMurtrey and Holli Mullins both reached double digits in digs with 15 and 12, respectively. EOU tallied 59 digs on the match.
Viterbo broke open a close opening set with an 8-2 run, taking an 18-11 lead on an Aubrey Aspen block. EOU close to 24-20 on an ace by Garlie before Grahn ended the set with a kill.
The Mountaineers fell behind again early in Set 2 and never recovered, trailing 14-6 after a 6-0 V-Hawk run. A kill by Bunn pulled Eastern within 17-14, but another late push by Viterbo ended the rally.
Eastern again found itself in a hole in Set 3, falling behind 13-4 on an error and 19-7 on a kill by Geidel. The Mountaineers did stage a rally to make it interesting late, getting within 24-18 on an ace by McMurtrey, but Roberts ended the match on the next point with a kill.
EOU and Lindsey Wilson, which went 3-0 in its pool, meet at 7 a.m. Friday.