The Eastern Michigan University women’s volleyball team took on the Western Michigan University Broncos Friday, Sept. 21, kicking off the Mid-American Conference season for both teams.
The WMU Broncos are ranked first in the west and were picked to win both the conference and tournament titles, but that didn’t stop the Eagles from playing tough. EMU forced WMU to play all five sets (21-25, 29-27, 25-20, 15-25, 15-10) but didn’t take the opportunity to win it all. This loss brought their record to 10-7 overall and 0-1 in the MAC conference.
EMU scored their first point of the match with a block from seniors Rachel Iaquaniello and Kristen Baker. The Eagles and Broncos went back and forth with neither team gaining a lead until EMU scored ten points, while allowing WMU to score only two points. This run consisted of five kills by Iaquaniello, a kill by junior Erin Short, an ace by Baker, six assists by senior Kim Hildreth and WMU errors. The Broncos eventually closed the gap, but the Eagles took a timeout, regained their composure, and won the first set.
The second set also saw a close score. WMU took off on a four point run until Short went up for a kill that the Broncos unsuccessfully blocked. Short also took advantage of an overpass provided by the other team and scored a point for the Eagles. EMU tied the score 23-23 and the two teams went back and forth forcing the set into extra points with WMU winning.
EMU had the lead until the Broncos took it away and ran with it in the third set. The Eagles tried to come back, but were unsuccessful. They couldn’t get it back even with WMU errors, Iaquaniello’s cross court kill, Short’s tip right over a blocker and junior Paige Roback’s block. The Eagles closed the gap, but not enough to win the set.
Entering the fourth set, the Eagles kept their lead. They put their foot down and barely allowed the Broncos to score, as the set proved to be the best offensively for the Eagles with a .312 (13-3-32) hitting percentage.
“We just knew that we could come out and play our volleyball game, play Eagle volleyball and come out and beat them,” freshman libero Sierra Reed said in response to the drive that won the fourth set.
Reed and her teammates came out and gave it their all in that set.
Iaquaniello had a total of seven kills along with Short, Roback and Baker having two kills each. Hildreth also contributed an ace and Baker scored two of her own.
After the fourth set, many fans were on edge but they knew the Eagles could win. EMU sophomore, Solomon Ijah believed that if they kept Megan Crawshaw in, the Eagles would do what they were supposed to do. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Broncos took the fifth set resulting in another winning match.
There was nothing else they could do about the game against Western, but going into the home game on Saturday against Northern Illinois, head coach Kim Berrington hopes to start off strong.
“I hope we are hungry, we can’t be satisfied with just taking them to five,” she said.
The Eagles go on the road to compete against Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.