The Eastern Michigan volleyball team took on a full plate this past weekend during the Michigan Challenge.
To start off the event, the Eagles took a quick road trip Saturday to Ann Arbor to battle the no 22 ranked team in the country in the Michigan Wolverines. Despite a strong offensive performance from senior Devon Murray as she had 11 kills on 24 attempts, and a valiant defensive effort from sophomore Alyssa LaFace who had 19 digs, the Eagles still fell short losing in three straight sets ad they lost in sets by scores of 25-15, 25-18, and 25-21.
The Eagles did not have long to sulk on the lose however with the Auburn Tigers making their way to the Convocation Center for a 7 pm match-up Saturday evening. The Eagles started off hot, taking the first set convincingly by the score of 25-18. During set two, despite going down 17-12, the Eagles roared back to tie the game 19 all. They would go on to take a 23-21 lead but still lost the set.
Sophomore Jordan Smith delivered five kills in set three, helping to lead the way in a 25-20 set victory. For the fourth set the Eagles showed true resilience, battling back from a 22-20 deficit to win 25-23 and claim their first victory over a South-Eastern Conference opponent since 1996 versus the University of Georgia.
When coach Kimi Olson was asked about her thoughts, she said, “Saturday was a huge win” and that it was a battle she felt her team was in charge of the whole time. Olson also mentioned the well distributed offense the Eagles distributed throughout the match.
Jordan Smith led the team in kills with 17, while freshman Alysa Sutton and Devon Murray each adding in 11 kills as well.
The Michigan Challenge wrapped up at the Convocation Center with the Eagles taking on the Colgate Raiders at 1pm on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Eagles would not find the same success the found against Auburn, falling to the Raiders in three sets.
Jordan Smith and Alysa Sutton continued to demonstrate their attacking abilities scoring eight and six kills respectively. Defensively however, the Eagles were over matched, losing the dig-differential by over 15 digs.
With the Michigan Challenge coming to a close, the Eagles head towards Mid-American Conference action, with a 5-8 record, which gets kicked off next Friday, September 23rd, in Toledo for a match-up against the Rockets.
We asked Coach Olson Sunday on her thoughts heading into MACtion and what the team needed to focus on moving forward. Coach Olson was very blunt when stating that this weekend the highs and lows of the EMU Volleyball team had been seen. Coach Olson made it clear that finding a steady form of motivation for this squad is what will drive them to the next level.
The Lady Eagles next home match will be Friday, Sept. 30, against Western Michigan at 7 pm in the Convocation Center.