Weekend games bring 1-1 split for Eastern Michigan volleyball team

The Eastern Michigan University volleyball team went 1-1 over the weekend, winning a match up against the Western Michigan Broncos on Friday and falling to the Northern Illinois Huskies on Saturday.

Friday the Eagles came out with a 3-2 (16-25, 25-22, 21-25, 27-25, 23-21) win over the Broncos. The match featured three Eagles giving record-breaking efforts.

Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Iaquaniello led EMU with 33 kills, the most a player has ever recorded in a single match at the Convocation Center. Her performance was also the best of any Eastern player in one game in over 12 years, the highest total by an Eagle and a MAC player since 2006.

Junior setter Ashley Mason turned in 68 assists, which is the third-most in Convocation Center history and the best in the MAC this season. Junior libero Haley Stein’s 55 digs broke a school record, previously held by Ashley Cudney who posted 50 in a game against Northern Illinois University since 2006. It is also tied for the fourth-most digs for a five-set match in NCAA Division I history.

In Head Coach Kim Berrington’s opinion the three players are the backbone of the team. “Ashley’s (Cudney) been like our quarterback,” she said, “Haley (Stein) has been like our rock and all three have been starting since the first game of their freshman year.”

Western took an early lead in the first set and the Eagles were not able to come back before losing 25-16. The Broncos also took the lead early in the second set with their largest lead being 12-7. But, EMU was able to bounce back and win the set 25-22.

WMU won the third set, topping Eastern 25-22 to take a 2-1 lead in the match. EMU responded with a 27-25 win in the fourth set to even up the match.

The fifth set, which was the second of the match that went into extra points was decided with an Iaquaniello kill to close out a 23-21 win for the Eagles on the set.

Eastern had three players turn in double-doubles in their win over the Broncos; Mason had twenty digs and sixty-eight assists, Iaquaniello posted eighteen digs with her thirty-three digs, and freshman outside hitter Paige Roback pitched in with twelve digs and twelve kills.

Saturday, the Eagles took on the Northern Illinois Huskies in a 3-1 (20-25, 28-26, 25-27, 21-25) upset. With the loss, EMU dropped to 17-6 (4-2 MAC) and the Huskies advanced to 19-2 (5-2 MAC).

Iaquaniello led EMU with 22 kills and freshman outside hitter Erin Short followed with 11 kills. Mason turned in 22 digs, 3 blocks and a match-high 43 assists. Stein who had 26 digs on the night led Eastern’s defensive efforts.

The Huskies came out to take an early edge in the first set, leading the Eagles by as much as seven points. EMU would cut into that lead, coming within three, however the Huskies stayed on top, winning the set 25-20.

Eastern answered by coming out and snatching a quick lead in the second set. However, NIU came back and tied the score.
The teams went back and forth with neither of them pulling more than one point ahead. With the Eagles up 27-26 Roback served an ace to close out the set and tie the match at two.

EMU led much of the third match until NIU tied it up at 24 and Husky kills and an attack error by senior middle blocker Jenn Swartz gave NIU the 27-25 win. The fourth set played out similarly, however, with the Huskies grabbing the early lead and holding on to it. They took the set 25-21 to win the match 3-1.

The Eagles will suit up again for their ‘Dig Pink’ match against Miami Ohio on Friday, October 15. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

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