The Eastern Michigan University volleyball team went 2-0 this weekend to advance their overall record to 19-6 (5-2 in conference play) with wins over both the Miami University-Ohio and Bowling Green State University.
On Saturday, the Eagles earned their 12th sweep of the season when they defeated the Bowling Green Falcons 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-23). Eastern was led by sophomore outside hitter Rachel Iaquaniello who turned in nine kills.
Freshman outside hitter Erin Short, sophomore middle blocker Kristen Backer and freshman outside hitter Paige Roback followed with seven kills a piece.
The Falcons and Eagles went back and forth in the opening set. EMU went on their first run after being tied up with Bowling Green at eight, scoring the next five out of six points. The Falcons fought back and took a 17-16 lead, which would soon be recovered by the Eagles, who took it back at 23-21 and held onto it until the set was closed at 25-22.
Bowling Green was led offensively by Lindsey Butterfield who put up eleven kills in the night for a .269 percentage.
Paige Penrod also chipped in with ten kills for a .095 percentage.
The Eagles came out strong in the second set, taking an early lead and holding the Falcons to just 11 points.
“It’s really good to come out right away and play hard from the start,” said sophomore Kristen Baker.
The 14-point winning margin was the largest for Eastern since a 25-10 victory over Youngstown on September 21.
EMU came out again in the third set to take an early 8-3 lead which they held until they took the match with a 25-23 victory over the Falcons. Bowling Green came back and attempted to take the lead however, they never managed to before a kill by Roback put an end to the match.
Instead of coming out in the school’s colors of green and white on Saturday, the Eagles brought out their pink jerseys to show their support for Breast Cancer Month. The Dig Pink Match is an annual event that has raised over $15,000 in the past three years for the cause of breast cancer awareness.
In games preceeding Saturday’s match, fans were given pink piggy banks and whoever brought those banks back on Saturday with any amount of money that could be donated was granted free admission. There were many other incentives given to get fans involved in the donation process, such as a silent auction and the purchasing of mini pink volleyballs, t-shirts and more.
For the players, the efforts to support breast cancer awareness made this match even more meaningful.
“Not only are you playing for yourself, your family, friends and coaches,” said Baker “but you’re playing for the thousands of people who have had cancer, died from it, fought with it and beat it.”
The cause really hit home for Rachel Iaquaniello and Erin Short, who have been more personally been affected by breast cancer. Short has an Aunt who won the battle against breast cancer and a grandmother who died from it.
“It was an honor to play in this game,” said Short.
Iaquaniello, has an Aunt currently fighting breast cancer and a grandmother who died from it. The match gave her a sense of accomplishment.
“It’s great to know that we’re fighting for something that goes beyond the court,” said Iaquaniello.
The Eagles also beat Miami Univeristy (Ohio) on Friday 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18). It was the first time the Eagles recorded a victory against the RedHawks since the 2005 season. With the win, Eastern also recorded the biggest turn around in the history of the program.
Leading EMU’s offense was Iaquaniello with 15 kills, followed by Short with 13. Baker pitched in with 11 kills and junior setter Ashley Mason turned in 50 assists. The Eagles’ defensive efforts were led by junior libero Haley Stein who recorded 34 digs and was followed by Roback who had 21 digs and 10 kills.
The Eagles will hit the road next to play Buffalo on Friday, October 22. The game will be the first of a five-game road trip for EMU. Game time is set for 7 p.m.