The Eastern Michigan University volleyball team won its quarterfinal and semifinal matches of the Mid-American Conference Championship over the weekend – a five-set thriller over the University of Toledo Rockets on Friday night and a straight set sweep over Western Michigan University on Saturday.
Eastern downed the Rockets (14-25, 25-19, 27-25, 30-28, 15-11) in the quarterfinal round Friday night.
The Eagles (17-15), who barely clinched a tournament spot, shocked Toledo (19-12) behind outside hitter Erin Short’s monster game. Short had 21 kills.
The match was the first time all season that Toledo lost in five sets, as they were previously 10-0.
Outside hitter Stacey Perinar added 17 kills for the Eagles. Outside hitter Paige Roback had 11 kills and setter Jill Briner had 10. Briner also led the Eagles with 57 assists, and they had 69 assists as a team.
For the Rockets, senior outside hitter Lauren Rafdal had 20 kills. Senior outside hitter Jordan Kielty had 17 kills. Senior setter Adria Pryor had 54 of the Rockets’ 57 assists.
The Eagles hit a -.025 attack percentage in the opening set and scored six kills. Roback had three kills for the Eagles in the set. Toledo’s defense held strong in the first set as libero Ellen Hays led the Rockets with 10 digs in the first set. Toledo took the opening set 25-14.
In the second set, EMU hit .200 compared to Toledo’s .083 and Short had four kills. Eastern was able to take the second set 25-19 and tie the match.
The Eagles were able to take a close third set in extra points thanks to a strong offensive effort. Short was 7-for-11 on attack attempts and the Eagles hit .340 as a team. Eastern took the third set 27-25 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
EMU led 19-14 late in the fourth set looking to end the match before Toledo was able to come back to tie the Eagles at 24. Neither team had an edge until Toledo was able to score straight kills to take the match 30-28.
The set was the longest for the Eagles all season. The fourth set saw 18 tie scores and six lead changes.
The Rockets got out to a 6-2 lead in the final set, until EMU scored five straight kills to take a 7-6 lead. From there, the Eagles were able to cruise to a 15-11 victory in the deciding set.
Short and Perinar hit .571 as a duo and the Eagles hit .208 as a team. EMU was able to hold Toledo to a -.091 attack percentage in the final set.
The No. 7 seed Eagles (18-15) defeated the No. 3 seed Broncos, Saturday, sweeping all three sets (25-17, 25-17, 29-27).
After a stellar 21 kills game against Toledo, Short scored 16 kills in three sets against the Broncos. Perinar had 14 kills, after recording 17 kills Friday. Western Michigan out dug the Eagles 81-74. Eastern hit just a .186 attack percentage as a team.
Eastern opened the match with five straight points to take a 5-0 lead in the first set. The Eagles held Western Michigan to .119 as a team. Eastern recorded four aces in the opening set and took the set 25-17.
Eastern also took the second set 25-17, led by Short who scored seven kills and hit .545 in the set. The Eagles hit .283 as a team in the second set.
The Broncos tied the final set midway through at 11 and took the lead 14-11 on three straight kills.
Western led by five late in the final set, 21-16, before the Eagles’ offense got rolling behind kills from middle blocker Katie Krasowski. Eastern was able to come back to tie the match at 24.
Both teams traded points before a pair of kills from Krasowski and Perinar ended the match. The Eagles took the final set in extra points 29-27. The Broncos recorded an impressive 39 digs in the final set.
Editor’s Note: The Eagles took on No. 1 ranked Ohio University in the championship round of the tournament Sunday afternoon, losing in straight sets to the Bobcats.