The Ashland University volleyball team will make its return to Kates Gymnasium on Tuesday (Sept. 19) night when it welcomes Tiffin in a GLIAC South clash.
When the Eagles (6-4, 0-2 GLIAC) last departed Kates after a match on Sept. 2, they left with a 4-0 record in hand. That season-opening streak ran to six the following weekend, but they have since lost four straight on the season.
Now, it's back to the friendly confines where the Eagles have won 18 straight matches – a streak that dates back to Oct. 10, 2015, or 709 days.
The Eagles are coming off a pair of losses last weekend at Grand Valley State and Wayne State to start the GLIAC season. After Tuesday's match against Tiffin, the Eagles will hit the road again next weekend to battle Lake Superior State and Saginaw Valley State to complete a stretch of eight in nine matches away for their home floor.
"It's really exciting to have fans here with people coming to watch and support," said junior middle blocker Reanne Neal. "We have a great student section and it's just exciting to play on our home court."
Neal is the team leader in blocks with 35, and last year she led the squad with 116 blocks.
The front row will be counted on heavily this week as the Eagles look to get back in the win column. In their first six matches of the season, AU held opponents to a .169 hitting percentage. Since then, opponents have hit at a .241 efficiency.
"It's really important [to get net touches]," Neal said. "This past weekend, I know I struggled with blocking and our whole defense has to pick it up. It's really important for me to get there first so they can play defense behind me."
With three matches this week, the Eagles have an opportunity to turn their early conference season around. The Dragons come in at 5-5 overall and 0-2 in GLIAC play. LSSU and SVSU are entering this week's play with a combined overall record of 2-16.
"We need to play to our level and our standard we set the very first weekend here at home," Neal said. "We need to play like we know we can."
First serve against Tiffin will go up on Tuesday (Sept. 19) at 7 p.m.