Eastern outlasts Bowling Green, takes match in five sets

Eastern Michigan was defeated in the first round of the MAC Tournament by Western Michigan in five sets on Thursday. 

The Eastern Michigan University volleyball team traveled to Ohio on Saturday, taking on Bowling Green State University, taking the victory in five sets in what was a back-and-forth match between the Eagles and the Falcons.

Eastern Michigan (12-9, 4-4 MAC) got off to a slow start, but the team’s depth on the bench was the difference against a Bowling Green (5-16, 1-7 MAC) team that has had its own struggles in the Mid-American Conference this season.

“This gave us an opportunity to get some people off the bench, get some experience and build on some depth,” Eastern Michigan coach Kimi Olson said. “We know we have to ability to change moving forward if we have our backs against the wall.”

Eastern Michigan won sets two, four and five with score of 25-18, 25-22 and 15-8, respectively. Bowling Green would pick up sets one and three, winning 25-18 and 25-14.

The Falcons jumped to a 10-6 lead in the first set, when senior outside hitter Stacey Perinar collided with freshman setter Mallory Rajewski, which forced Perinar out of the game. The Falcons would quickly go on take more of a lead, and win the set 25-18.

Perinar returned from injury in the second half. A relief for head coach Kimi Olson, who is already dealing with an injury in the form of Devon Murray, who did not play on Saturday.

The Falcons capitalized on its momentum going into the second set, taking a 13-9 lead over the Eagles. Eastern would ride the hot hand of Cassie Haut, who earned four kills in the second set, leading the Eagles to a comeback win in the set.

Eastern couldn’t gain traction from its second set win, falling hard in the third set, quickly falling behind 20-9 in the set and then losing the third set by a score of 25-14

The Eagles, who have struggled on the road, posting a 2-6 record in its travels prior to Saturday’s match, would recover from the third set blunder. Olson would rely on a combination of talent and roster depth to get her team on a positive track to win the match.

The fourth set was very close, finishing 25-22 in favor of the Eagles, but there were frightening moments in the set where it looked like the Falcons would capitalize on opportunities and take the match. The Eagles had other plans, though, taking the final three points of the match and forcing a sudden death fifth set.

The Eagles would win the fifth set 15-8, and would head back to Ypsilanti with another win, while also bringing its MAC record to 4-4.

“The injury kind of set us off a bit,” said Olson. “A couple players came off the bench and accepted their role, but this was an absolute rollercoaster throughout the whole thing with the ups and down. But every time there was a down I knew there would be an up to follow it.”

Freshman Jordan Smith led the Eagles with 16 kills and Katie Krasowski came off the bench to earn 11 kills. Libero Corynne Smith finished the game with 20 digs.

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