Utah State Eastern volleyball added three more wins on Friday and Saturday during the Blue Moutain Inn and Suites Invitational in Rangely, Colo.
The Eagles began the tournament with a battle with fellow top 20 opponent Western Nebraska on Friday morning. Western Nebraska won the match 3-0 and gave the Eagles their first loss of the season (25-22,25-22,25-21).
Head coach Danielle Jensen said that errors among other things were the reason for tough loss against Western Nebraska.
“We had too many errors on our part and when you are playing a good team like Western Nebraska you don’t have room to make errors,” said Jensen.
Freshman Sarah Mafi led the Eagles in kills with 13 and also contributed with 11 digs. Mafi said after the match that her team’s mindset was what made the difference in the outcome.
“We went in knowing that they are ranked higher and we had a mindset going in to play to not lose instead of playing to win,” said Mafi.
Setter Agatha Roese-Olsen finished the match with 29 assists, nine digs and two blocks.
Jensen said after the match that her team moved on and focused on the next opponent instead of the loss.
The Eagles rebounded as a team in the afternoon on Friday with a 3-0 sweep of Sheridan College (25-22,25-17, 25-12). The win on Friday was the second win of the season against Sheridan.
“We played as a team because when we played as a team than we can do great things. We can’t play timid and we always do well when we put everything out on the floor,” said Mafi.
Freshman libero Megan Gurr helped the Eagles defensively with a team-high 15 digs.
USU Eastern continued its winning ways on Saturday morning with two more wins to finish out the tournament.
After a first set loss against Eastern Wyoming during the first match of the day, the Eagles bounced back with three straight set wins to defeat Eastern Wyoming 3-1 (25-20, 25-21, 29-27, 25-11).
After a tough third set where both teams pushed the scoring to almost 30 points, the Eagles closed out the match with a strong 25-11 final set.
Defensively for the Eagles, Gurr had 23 digs and Springer had 20 digs. Sophomore Jaelyn Olsen led the team in blocks with four.
In their final win of the weekend, the Eagles defeated Western Wyoming in four sets (25-14, 25-14,25-20, 25-18).
The Eagles started off the match strong with a 25-14 first set win with a .407 hitting percentage. Western Wyoming came back and produced a similar set during set two of the match and they won the set 25-14. USU Eastern responded with two more set wins and the match win to push their record to 11-1 overall.
Mafi had another great match offensively for USU Eastern after finishing the match with a team-high 14 kills along with one ace. She also had 12 digs against Western Wyoming. Freshman Brooke Anderson led the Eagles defensively with a team-high eight blocks. Roese-Olsen put up 36 assists as the setter in the win.
One of the bright spots of the weekend was the play of Mafi who led the team in scoring in three of the four matches.
“Sarah Mafi has been an amazing asset to our team. Sarah is just a freshman, but her leadership on the court and her competitive nature has been one of the reasons we are a nationally ranked team,” said Jensen.
According to Mafi, her success has come from the little things leading up to the games.
“I try to work very hard in practice and never miss a morning workout, I give it my all and try to stay true to what my coaches tell me do,” said Mafi.
Before their conference schedule begins on the Sept. 23, Jensen and her team will play one more tournament in Las Vegas this coming Friday and Saturday.
“This next weekend we will focus one game at a time at getting better. We have to eliminate errors and learn how to eliminate silly mistakes if we are going to get wins against teams in our conference,” said Jensen.
The Eagles will open their tournament this Friday with a match against Mira Costa College at 3 p.m. PST. On Saturday, the Eagles will conclude the tournament with a match against nationally ranked Seward County in a battle between top 15 teams.
Fans can watch the tournament from the USU Eastern Women’s Volleyball Facebook page or the Utah State Eastern Athletics Facebook page.