The Eastern Michigan University women’s volleyball team won an important match against Central Michigan University Nov. 1 in straight sets (25-19, 27-25, 25-19). The victory brought the Eagles’ record to 16-13 (6-7 Mid-American Conference West), while the Chippewas saw their record fall to 12-12 (6-7 MAC) with their sixth loss in a row.
EMU senior outside hitter Rachel Iaquaniello, whom fans of the team have taken to calling “The Hammer,” led the way for the Eagles with 17 kills. She now has 459 kills on the year, holding first place all by herself. Following in a not so close second is Bowling Green State University’s Paige Penrod with 366.
The Eagles came out swinging in the first set, but the Chippewas kept it close. Following a kill from junior outside hitter Erin Short, the Eagles took the set and ran away with it. Thanks to two kills from junior outside hitter Paige Roback and one from senior middle blocker Kristen Baker, the Eagles gained a lead that they never lost. Short put the nail in the coffin with a kill and the Eagles took the first set by a score of 25-19.
Short had five kills in the set, which led the team. Iaquaniello added three of her own as did sophomore middle blocker Megan Crawshaw.
The second set was close from beginning to end. The score was tied 12 different times, but the lead only changed twice. EMU was a point away from winning the set, but the Chippewas just wouldn’t go away. Finally, Iaquaniello finished off CMU with two consecutive kills and the Eagles took the set by a score of 27-25.
Iaquaniello had nine kills in the second set, while Roback added five and freshman setter Alyssa Davis added one of her own.
Crawshaw had great things to say about Davis after the game, “Beanie [Davis] dispersed the ball really well.”
The third set was all Eagles. The score was only tied three times, but each time, the Eagles retook the lead quickly. The Chippewas tried mounting a comeback late in the set, but the Eagles would have none of it. EMU won the match 25-19 on an attack error by CMU’s Danielle Gotham.
Iaquaniello lived up to her nickname with five more kills in the set. Baker had what turned out to be the decisive kill, putting the Eagles ahead 6-5, a lead they never surrendered.
After the game, head coach Kim Berrington had nothing but praise for her team.
“We played smart, we followed our game plan and we played as a team,” she said.
She also talked about the team’s next three games.
“We call it ‘Moving Week.’ We’re playing teams that are above us in the standings, so we want to take these games and move up,” she said.
After the game, Iaquaniello said she was ecstatic about beating CMU and was impressed with the team’s effort.
“It felt amazing. Everybody played together,” she said.
Iaquaniello was quick to not rush past the next three games.
She said the key for the team in the next three matches is staying focused throughout the weekend.