For the first time this season, the Ashland University volleyball team played a five-set match, but the Eagles came out on the short end, falling to host Northern Michigan, 21-25, 25-23, 25-7, 23-25, 15-10, on Saturday (Oct. 7) evening in Marquette, Mich.
The Eagles (10-7, 4-5 GLIAC) were stifled offensively, hitting just .019 for the match while two extremely efficient sets for the Wildcats (12-5, 6-3 GLIAC) were enough to boost them to the win.
Both teams hit .000 in the opening frame with nine kills and nine hitting errors each, but the Eagles used a 3-0 run to create separation, 24-19 and earned the win on an NMU attacking error.
The Wildcats evened up the match in the second set and took the lead with a 25-7 win in the third by hitting at a .474 clip in that set.
The Eagles trailed by as much as seven (11-4) in the fourth set and looked like they were going to succumb in four sets, but they rallied to tie it at 15. Northern Michigan eventually went up, 23-21, but the Eagles rattled off the next four points, the last coming on a combined block by sophomores Sophi Cudworth and Michaela Ping. AU had just six kills in the fourth set.
The Eagles never led in the fifth set as the Wildcats hit .500 on their way to the 15-10 win.
Sophomore Shelby Woycik led the Eagles with 15 kills (.175). Only one other player had more than three kills – Cudworth, who totaled six for the match.
Both teams were dominant at the net with the Eagles nailing down a season-high 14 blocks, including nine by junior Reanne Neal. NMU finished with 16 blocks.
Four players finished with a dozen kills for the Wildcats, including Sarah Kuehn, who also tallied nine blocks.
The Eagles will return to the floor next Friday and Saturday (Oct. 13-14) at the Midwest Region Crossover in Aurora, Ill. The schedule for that event will be announced Sunday or Monday.