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Volleyball News & Highlights

November 16, 2013

Eagles Soar To Regional Final

Eastern setter Rikki Schlager

Eastern's Rikki Schlager distributed 32 assists on Saturday and also finished five kills on seven attempts with no errors.

HUNTINGDON, Pa.--Eastern Volleyball advanced to the NCAA Regional Final after eliminating the Christopher Newport University Captains 25-18, 25-15, 25-20 on Saturday.

The Eagles are one of 16 teams in the country still standing, thanks in part to a solid defensive effort that kept CNU to a .048 hitting percentage. The Eagles held CNU's freshmen outside hitters Briana Sutton and Harper Smith to three kills each. Sutton and Smith had each tallied 16 kills Friday night against Cabrini College. Neither of those players played against Eastern earlier in the year, but Eastern head coach Mark Birtwistle made sure the Eagles had prepared well for them.

Eastern senior Kearby Benak led the team with 12 digs and also had seven kills. She commented that Eastern's block helped limit the opportunities the Captains had at the net. "All around defensively, every single person did their job," she said. The Eagles finished the match with seven blocks.

The Captains provided a strong presence at the net, blocking 10 Eastern attacks.

"They're probably one of the best blocking teams we've faced all year," Birtwistle said. "They're a tremendous team. But our girls are playing really well right now. Our energy and effort is fantastic."

Junior Lauren Sproles had a team-high nine kills. Erin Hillman and Katrina Pisch added eight. Pisch hit .467 for the match. Stephanie Elechko and Rikki Schlager put down five kills each. Schlager, the setter, scored those five kills on seven attempts. "We do things that draw a block and that opens things up for me."

Libero Rylie Haas recorded nine digs in the win and in the process, broke the school record for digs in a season. She currently has 597 in her freshman campaign. Coach Birtwistle said it's been awesome to see what Haas has been able to do as a freshman. "We lost a fantastic libero last year in Kelly Groff, and Rylie has come in and done amazingly." he said. "She's so solid on the back line. We couldn't do alot of things we're doing without her passing and her defensive effort. She's a terrific kid and a teriffic athlete."

In the first set, the Eagles pulled away from a 13-13 tie, going on two runs with Lauren Horst and Lauren Sproles serving, and finished the set with a 25-18 win. The second set was all Eastern. The Eagles outhit the Captains .321 to -.031 in that set. The third set went back and forth with the score being tied at 10 different points. Eastern took the lead for good at 18-17 and Hillman finished the match at 25-20 with a dink at the net that dropped inside the line.

The Eagles will play in the "Sweet Sixteen" on Sunday at 4 p.m. against Stevenson University. Stevenson upset Juniata College in five sets on Saturday night. Eastern defeated Stevenson 3-0 earlier this season.

Box Score

Updated: Saturday, 16 November 2013


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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