Sports

Volleyball Team Slugs Their Way to Four Straight Wins

The Eastern women’s volleyball team has continued their dominance of the Freedom Conference, running their conference record for the season to 6-0 with three consecutive victories from Oct. 7-21. The Eagles sweetened the pot when they added a fourth victory, a four set upset of 10th ranked Juniata.

After a strong defensive performance saw the Eagles hold Manhattanville to a -.189 hitting percentage in a blowout 3 games to none sweep, the Eagles have slugged their way to consecutive victories over FDU-Florham and Wilkes. The team hit .432 and .415 respectively in those matches. The latter was helped by a third set in which the Eagles pounded the ball at a ridiculous .737 clip.

The numbers, far and away better than the Eagles season hitting percentage of .243, suggest an offense that is rounding into form going into the final stretch of the team’s schedule.

Leading the offensive charge for the Eagles have been sophomore outside hitter Alicia Weigel, senior captain and outside hitter Lauren Sproles, and fellow senior captain and middle hitter Katrina Pisch. Sproles had 12 kills on only 20 attempts against Wilkes for a .600 percentage. The fourth year captain boosted her hitting percentage on the season to .172.

Katrina Pisch leads all active hitters nationally in hitting percentageErica Engle | EU Sports Information

Katrina Pisch leads all active hitters nationally in hitting percentage

Weigel was named Freedom Conference player of the week for the week of Aug. 5-11. She led the team in the Manhattanville blowout with nine kills on 15 attempts to go along with three service aces.

Pisch, however, has been dominant on another level. On Oct. 21, Eastern Athletics’ Facebook page posted a photo listing Pisch as the active leader in the nation, at any level, in hitting percentage. Since then, her .427 has actually risen to .443 (close to a point on every other attempt), placing her ahead of such national stars as Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku and Penn State’s Nia Grant.

Impressive.

Of course, one of the great truisms of volleyball is that nothing stops a good offense more than poor passing. Against Juniata, Eastern proved it was more than just an offensive team, controlling the ball and giving setter Rikki Schlager plenty of hitting options.

After the match, Pisch was quoted as saying, “Our passers did a really great job in getting the ball up to Rikki so that she could set up anyone she wanted to. Rylie (Haas), (Lauren) Sproles and Lauren Horst really stepped it up back there when we were down and gave us opportunities to score.”

It was only the third time the Eagles have beaten Juniata in 21 meetings, and should give the team plenty of momentum as they enter the stretch run of the regular season. It also earned them the number two ranking in the first batch of regional rankings and should no doubt result in a step forward in the national rankings.

The Eagles enter the conference playoffs on Nov. 5th.

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