Game of the Week:

Eastern University Women’s Volleyball defeated the University of Lynchburg in four sets.

By: Will Cunningham

Waltonian | The Waltonian Eastern’s Hannah Pringle (23 in maroon) delivers a kill during the Eagles’ Sept. 10 content against McDaniel. Source: EU Athletic Photography

In the second game of a trimatch on Sept. 3, Eastern Women’s Volleyball had an impressive performance, besting the University of Lynchburg 3-1 to move to 2-1 on the season.

The Eagles came into the Lynchburg match after a tough loss against Franklin and Marshall. Despite taking them to five sets in a tight contest, the Eagles had a rough fifth set, blowing a 7-3 lead to drop their first match of the season. The struggles continued in the first set against Lynchburg despite pushing the Hornets to a 31-point deuce. After running out of substitutions, the exhaustion caught up to them as they lost 33-31.

Once the second set began, however, the Eagles found their groove, rebounding to a 25-21 win before winning the final two convincingly, including 16 kills in the final set to seal the deal.

“I knew that I needed to dig deep to help my team,” Natalie Saxton said when talking about the victory. “I was mentally and physically exhausted but I knew it was a matter of playing for my team instead of focusing on my tiredness. I was playing for my team and focusing on each point and focusing on giving 100% every point I had.”

Multiple Eagles had strong performances in that match. Kaylyn Zeigler added 12 kills, Natalie Saxton pitched in eight, and Bridgette Kelly, Elle Jiron-Bujanda and Logan Martin each added seven. Kelly also added six blocks and three aces, while Zeigler and Saxton had four blocks each.

However, the most notable performance of the day was by first-year Hannah Pringle. She led the Eastern attack with 16 kills and 12 digs, as well as 17 kills in the first match against Franklin and Marshall. Her performance helped her earn the MAC Commonwealth Player of the Week award. 

“She’s been outstanding,” Head Coach Mark Birtwistle said. “She’s really come out and proven to be an impact player for us. She doesn’t get flustered with everything; she just puts her nose down and goes to work. She’s completely capable of terminating at this level and that’s what her job is: to hit and get us some points on our offense.”

It was quite a challenge for Eastern to bounce back from the recent close defeats, but they were able to rally together and put up a strong performance. Birtwistle also added some further insight on how the Eagles bounced back.

“It was just getting back to being focused. We were coming off the loss. We had to go right and play right away. There wasn’t a lot of downtime in between. We made a couple of adjustments personnel-wise with [moving] Trinity to libero and in place of Grace [Casagrande]; outside of that, it was just a matter of executing.”

It’s important to note that this is just the third game of the season for the Eagles, and they will have more challenges coming up. They faced Swarthmore, Gallaudet, Elizabethtown and McDaniel the following week, and they begin conference play immediately after. However, there was important insight about how the Eagles can continue this success drawn out from this early victory.

“I think the key for us is to control what we can control,” Birtwistle said. I think if we’re focused on our controllables and doing the things that we’re supposed to be doing systematically, then I think we’re going to be competitive with a lot of teams.”

As previously mentioned, the Eagles’ game on Sept. 13 marked the beginning of conference play, where they traveled to Lebanon Valley College to face the Dutchmen.

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