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Volleyball News & Highlights

November 21, 2013

Eagles Stopped By No. 7 Emory in Elite Eight

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Katrina Pisch hits against the big block of Emory. Pisch finished with 10 kills.

HOLLAND, Mich.--Eastern University Volleyball's season concluded Thursday afternoon in the National Quarterfinals against the Emory University Eagles.

Eastern finished the year with a 32-5 record, reaching the National Quarterfinals for just the second time in school history.

Eastern fell to Emory in three sets: 25-23, 25-15, 25-20. 

Eastern head coach Mark Birtwistle was glad for his team to get the opportunity to experience volleyball on this stage. 

The Eagles will be graduating one senior, Kearby Benak, but for the 11 remaining players, the opportunity to play in the national spotlight is invaluable for the team moving forward. Coach Birtwistle said that this will help the team next year remember that they can make it through regionals and compete on this level. "We have excellent athletes," he said. "They love to work hard and they love to compete. They've got to be in the situations where they can compete with the best (teams out there), and I think they have the feeling that they can (do that)."

Kearby Benak, the three-time Honorable Mention All-America senior outside hitter, thanked coach Birtwistle for four great years. The Eagles went 128-18 in the four years that Benak has played at Eastern. "I've leared alot from these four years," Benak said. "And these girls have become a part of my family."

Fellow captain Katrina Pisch, a junior middle, thanked Benak for her leadership and said that she thinks Eastern will be back in the hunt for a national championship next season, citing the excellent team chemistry. "We're going to keep pushing and keep getting better every single practice and game."

Pisch led the Eagles with 10 kills. Freshman Stephanie Elechko added nine more kills, and Erin Hillman contributed seven kills. Libero Rylie Haas picked up 15 digs and Benak added 15 as well.

Eastern started out the first set with a promising lead, but Emory caught up to them at 18-18 and overtook them to finish the set with a 25-23 win.

Through the first set, the Eastern hit .120 and Emory, .100. In the second set, Emory, a team with eight players 6-foot or taller, showed off their size at the net and held Eastern to a .000 hitting percentage for the set. For the match, Emory finished with 10 team blocks. Their presence seemed to affect Eastern's rythym. Coach Birtwistle said that it was little things that hurt Eastern's chances Thursday and said that they didn't pass as well as they needed to.

Eastern still looked for a comeback in the third set and went on a late run to bring the game within reach, but Emory held off the comeback and advanced to the Final Four.

Eastern looks to build on the success of the year and carry over the valuable lessons they learned. With so much returning talent, and the experience of this year, the Eagles hope to return to this stage again next season.

Box Score

 

Updated: Saturday, 23 November 2013

Coaches

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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