The middle blocks were the story on Friday night as the Eastern Michigan University volleyball team defeated the University of Toledo 3-0 (26-24, 25-7, 25-16).
With the win, the Eagles snapped a three-game losing streak and advanced to 2-3 in Mid-American Conference play (14-6 overall). The Rockets fall to 6-11 on the 2011 season (1-4 MAC).
Rachel Iaquaniello led the Eagles with 14 kills on a .333 hitting percentage as well as eight digs. Kristen Baker followed close behind with nine kills, seven digs and two blocks while freshman Meagan Crawshaw had a game-high five blocks. Senior setter Ashley Mason dished out a game-high 30 assists to go with eight digs meanwhile Haley Stein led the Eagles’ defensive efforts with 10 digs. Sophomore Erin Short also chipped in with six digs, four kills and a game-high two service aces.
Despite winning 26-24, the Eagles struggled offensively in the opening set posting just 13 kills with a .140 hitting percentage and six service errors.
“There was a little bit of a lack of concentration,” Iaquaniello said. “We’re working on it, it’s something that we have struggled with before. I’m just happy it didn’t have the affect on this game that it could have.”
The second set was, however, a different story. The Eagles improved to a .360 hitting percentage on a 11-of-25. The Rockets dropped from a -.026 hitting percentage to -.286. With the help of senior Cassie Sowers, EMU was able to snap its serving drought and nine kills from Baker help the Eagles earn their 25-7 win.
“Cassie is always focused,” Iaquaniello stated. “Whenever there is something that we’re not accomplishing she will step up and be the one to start doing it. She filled those shoes once again.”
“Cassie knew she had to do the job; focusing and getting serves,” Short added. “Her and Baker worked together to get the lead back; it all just worked out great.”
The Eagles closed out the match with a 25-16 win in set three. They will now prepare to take on the Ball State Cardinals (4-0 MAC) on Saturday, October 8th at the Convocation Center. EMU feels it has snapped out of its recent slump and every game from here on out is a must win.
“It feels so good to win at home,” Iaquniello stated. “Eric (assistant coach Eric Stark) said in the locker room ‘welcome back!’ We know that our record is so important this year. Winning this match proved to ourselves that we can finish a win and not sink to the other team’s level. It will carry over the rest of the way; this is our turning point.”
“Like Rachel said, this is our turning point,” Short added. “We’ve got our energy back and we’re ready to beat Ball State. We’ve already lost three matches in the MAC and to get to the Tournament we can only lose eight so we take every game very seriously.”