Broncos Earn 3-1 Road Win at EMU
YPSILANTI, Mich. - The Western Michigan volleyball team picked up its fifth win in seven matches with a stifling defensive effort on Friday, as the Broncos earned a big 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 14-25, 25-22) road win over Eastern Michigan at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti. With the win, the Broncos improve to 15-11 on the season, 8-5 in Mid-American Conference play.
The Broncos held the Eagles to just a .189 hitting percentage in the match, recording a season-high 104 digs as a team to keep rallies alive and frustrate the Eagles. Lena Oliver tied for the match-high with 33 digs, her second 30-plus dig performance in her last three matches (both four sets), and Caroline Rose posted 23 digs of her own. Alysia Baznik recorded her tenth double-double of the season with 14 kills and 19 digs, and Lexie Pawlik followed suit with 47 assists and 16 digs for her ninth double-double of the season.
Offensively, the Broncos were led by Rachel Sheffer, who recorded a match-high 15 kills and also provided two blocks. Gerwig was the third Bronco in double-digits in kills, adding 12 to the effort, and Gillian Asque contributed eight kills and a team-best .269 hitting percentage in what turned out to be a defensive battle.
The first set was as nip and tuck as any so far this season, with neither team gaining substantial separation from the other. Eastern Michigan actually opened the set on a 7-3 run but the Broncos battled back, pull to within 7-5 on a kill from Gerwig and eventually tying the score on an Eagle attack error. EMU took a 14-11 lead on an attack error from Baznik, but the Broncos scored three of the next four points, capped by a block from Sheffer and Ave Stout, to tie the score at 15. Neither team led by more than two points the rest of the way, with the Eagles last enjoying the advantage at 23-22 on a kill from Erin Short. Stout tied the score at 23 with a kill of her own, and Gerwig ripped the last two kills of the set to give the Broncos a 25-23 win and the 1-0 advantage in the match.
Much less drama surrounded the second set as the Broncos opened up on a 7-3 run, with Baznik pounding two kills on three points at the end of the rally to set the score and force an Eagle timeout. EMU went on a big run to pull back within contention, though, scoring 10 of the next 16 points to tie the set at 13-13. They committed a service error on the next point, though, and the Broncos were back in business, expanding their lead to 18-14 on a kill from Gerwig and to 21-15 on a kill from Baznik. Baznik recorded the last four points of the set, in fact, rattling off kill after kill to give the Broncos a 25-18 set win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Eagles rallied back to take the third set handily at 25-14, but the Broncos pulled together and closed out the match with a gritty effort in the fourth. Like the second set, the Broncos opened the fourth set on a 7-3 run, capping the rally with a kill from Sheffer. The Eagles never tied the set again, getting only as close as 13-12 on a pair of kills from Erin Short. The Broncos responded with a 6-1 run to force an EMU timeout at 19-14, with Kaycee Acree ending the run with a service ace against the Eagles. Sheffer posted the last two kills of the set to end the match, giving the Broncos a 25-22 set win and a 3-1 overall victory.