Eastern Michigan University volleyball clinched its first home win of the season with an exclamation point Tuesday night at the Convocation Center against Oakland University. The Eagles swept the Golden Grizzlies in three straight sets, 25-22, 25-18, 25-23, to improve to 4-4 on the year.
“It’s really nice to win in three, and it’s really nice to be able to finish all three of those sets,” EMU coach Kim Berrington said.
Oakland University moves to 4-4 on the season, as well. Sophomore outside hitter Cassie Pelloni and junior outside hitter Taylor Humm accounted for more than half of the team’s offense leading with ten and eight kills, respectively.
“Both of them played really well,” OU coach Rob Beam said. “From the second set on, I think they were very good. That’s a big part of our offense.”
Eagles junior setter and outside hitter Jill Briner led the team in assists for the second time in the last three matches with 25. She also tallied seven kills and two of the team’s five serving aces.
Sophomore outside hitter Stacey Perinar led the EMU offense with nine kills on 33 attack attempts. Junior middle blocker Megan Crawshaw contributed with eight kills and no attack errors.
The middle blockers proved to be the most efficient for the Eagles. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Jones stood out with an attack percentage of .556 and Crawshaw had a solid one of .400.
“We worked a lot on getting our [middle-blockers] set more at practice this week, and this was the first time both of our [middle-blockers] hit around .500,” Jones said.
Oakland University took an early 2-0 lead in the first set after a long rally led to an attack error from EMU senior outside hitter Erin Short. It would turn out to be the Golden Grizzlies only lead of the night. A dig by sophomore libero Corryne Smith (24 digs) was followed up by a kill from Crawshaw to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead that they would hang on to until later in the set.
The Golden Grizzlies went on a 9-3 run late in the first set to tie at 20 and bring Berrington to her feet for the last points of the set. A pair of blocks by Perinar and Jones kept the Eagles in front and was followed by a service ace from Briner to lock up a 25-22 first set victory.
Early in the second set, the Eagles created a comfortable 6-1 lead that was highlighted by a kill from senior outside-hitter Paige Roback. Smith’s athletic play for the dig allowed Briner to set up Roback’s kill that made it 2-0.
Later in the set, EMU notched six points in a row to turn a one-point lead into 17-10. Perinar finessed a kill over a pair of Oakland University blockers to start an 8-2 run for the Eagles.
“We were putting so much pressure on [Oakland] serving-wise that their offense became predictable, so we were able to make the dig and really run our offense right back at them,” Berrington said.
The Eagles clinched the second set off of a kill by Perinar set up by sophomore setter Alyssa Davis.
Like the second set, the Eagles got off to an early lead in the third. However, the Golden Grizzlies made it a challenge later in the set for EMU to complete the three-set sweep.
After trailing 21-12, Oakland University took 10 of the next 11 points including eight straight. A kill by Pelloni tied the third set at 22 all.
“We made some subs,” Berrington said. “And anytime you have a big lead, you make some subs and tend to let up a little bit.”
The Eagles were able to regain a lead and at match point, Briner set Roback for an attack that deflected off a Golden Grizzly blocker for the kill and the win.
EMU will travel to Providence, RI for their third of four early season weekend tournaments. The team’s first match is Fri. Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. against Bryant University. The Eagles play Holy Cross and tournament host Brown University on Saturday. Then the Eagles come home Tuesday for their last non-conference home game of 2013 against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Follow Derrick Vergolini On Twitter @derrickvergo.