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Volleyball News & Highlights

November 04, 2012

Volleyball Earns Fifth Straight Conference Title


Eastern's Lauren Sproles recorded 17 kills in Sunday's Freedom Conference Championship and was named championship MVP.

ST. DAVIDS, Pa.--Eastern Volleyball held off the DeSales University Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon to win their fifth consecutive Freedom Conference Championship.

With the 25-17, 25-22, 25-12, win, the Eagles earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament. The Eagles have participated in the national tournament for 13 of the last 14 years.

Eastern sophomore outside hitter Lauren Sproles led the Eastern attack with 17 kills on 26 attempts. Sproles hit just two errors and finished with an outstanding .577 hitting percentage. Sproles performance made her an obvious choice for MVP of the Freedom Conference Championship.

Sophomore Amy Guarino stepped into a different role Sunday and provided her second highest kill total of the season, making six kills on 11 attempts (one error) for a .455 hitting percentage. Freshman Rikki Schlager set 80 times for Eastern and recorded 34 assists.

Eagles' libero Kelly Groff picked up 16 digs, moving her to 1,957 for her career.

Eastern started Sunday's match on a 7-1 run, but DeSales battled back and cut Eastern's lead to 11-10. The Eagles went on a 10-3 run and finished the first set 25-17 with a kill by Rachel Wenger.

In the second set, with Eastern trailing 12-20, Eagles head coach Mark Birtwistle called timeout. After the timeout, junior Kearby Benak slammed one of her eight kills. Teammate Kelly Groff said that Benak's kill helped swing the momentum in Eastern's favor. "There has to be one person that steps up and makes a big play, and I think Kearby did that. She had a major kill. And once one person starts that, you just get fired up."

With Eastern trailing 17-22, Sproles forced DeSales to sideout with a cross-court slam. Groff then served for the next seven points as Eastern rallied for the 25-22 set victory. Sproles noted that it was important for the Eagles to show that they could climb their way out of that deep of a hole. She said, "We came together at the end and showed that we could fight and that we could come back from a big deficit."

Eastern stayed hot in the third set, hitting .324, and dismissing the Bulldogs with a final score of 25-12.

The NCAA tournament selection show is scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. on NCAA.com.

Box Score

Photo Gallery


Updated: Monday, 05 November 2012


Mark Birtwistle

Mark Birtwistle

Coach Birtwistle has won more than 600 games and 16 Conference Championships as Eastern's Volleyball Coach

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