Eastern Michigan University women’s volleyball started out its season with a winning record for the second year in a row this Labor Day weekend. The Eagles took the first two games in the Golden Griffin Invitational in Buffalo, NY, but fell in their third and final match to start the 2013 campaign out 2-1.
In their first match, the Eagles took care of Canisius College in four sets on Friday afternoon.
Eastern trailed 23-19 late in the first set, but stayed alive with five straight points to take a 24-23 lead. Junior defensive specialist/setter Natalie Folk served four consecutive points, two of which tied and gave the Eagles the one point lead. A kill by redshirt sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Jones allowed the Eagles to clinch a 26-24 first set victory.
After a 27-25 loss in the second set to Canisius, the Eagles recovered nicely by winning the next two sets (25-22, 25-19) to clinch a 3-1 victory over the Griffins in their season opener.
Sophomore setter Alyssa Davis played a huge role in helping her team by racking up 42 assists. The team as a whole posted 61.
Eastern made a strong comeback in their second match Friday evening after falling just short in the first two sets (25-23, 26-24) against Hartford. The Eagles dominated the third and fourth sets, winning 25-17 in the third and 25-16 in the fourth and capitalized in a shortened fifth set (15-12) to start their season 2-0.
Senior outside hitter Paige Roback led the team with 21 kills, which is the team-best so far through the early portion of the 2013 season. Davis again led the girls in assists with 39.
The Eagles suffered their first loss of the year on Saturday afternoon to Cleveland State University, who managed to take the match in four sets.
The Eagles and the Vikings kept close in the first set, never having a point difference of more than two. Eight lead changes ultimately led to Cleveland State coming out on top in the first set 27-25.
Eastern’s 25-23 second set win knotted the match up at one set each, but CSU’s 25-19 victory in the third set gave them the advantage heading into the fourth set.
The Eagles had Cleveland State at set point three times before the Vikings climbed their way back to extend the set even further. An ace from the Vikings gave them a 32-30 set win and handed the Eagles a 3-1 loss and their first of the year.
Despite the setback, Roback and sophomore libero Corynne Smith protected the floor well by leading the team in digs, Roback with 17 and Smith with 24. Davis made it her third consecutive game of leading the team in assists with 25.
Roback’s 47 kills and sophomore outside hitter Stacey Perinar’s 42 kills led the team this weekend in that category. Smith’s 62 digs this weekend was also the best on the squad.
The team’s attack percentage of .192 topped their opponent’s combined percentage of .170.
The Eagles’ home opener is on Sept. 4 when they welcome the Oregon State Beavers to the Convocation Center.
The Beavers are the first Pacific 12 team to play EMU on the road in program history.
Follow Derrick Vergolini on Twitter @Vergolicious_.