In front of a vocal home crowd at Kates Gymnasium on Friday (Sept. 14) night, Ashland University's volleyball team maintained its early-season lead in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's South Division following a 3-1 (19-25, 25-14, 25-13, 25-15) victory over Saginaw Valley State.
The Eagles' (11-2, 4-0) fourth consecutive overall win leaves them with a 7-0 home mark so far in 2018, and a record at "The Kates" of 34-5 since the start of the 2015 season. The Cardinals are 8-4, 2-2.
Defense was the headliner for Ashland on Friday night, with match totals of 18 block assists and 65 digs – and numerous rallies continued thanks to diving and lunging saves. SVSU had negative hitting percentages in each of the last three sets, and ended the night with a percentage of .034.
Senior libero Kaitlin Bean continued her strong start to 2018 with a team-high 21 digs, her fourth 20-plus-dig match in the last five outings. Senior middle blocker Reanne Neal and junior outside hitter Shelby Woycik each collected five block assists, while junior middle hitter Michaela Ping added four block assists and a solo stuff.
Offensively, the Eagles had three players end with double-digit kills – Neal (15), Woycik (10) and Ping (10), while freshman setter Zoey Peck finished with 38 assists.
For Saginaw, Sarah Tabit had a team-high 11 kills, Hannah Tabit had 28 assists and Abbie Toland collected 20 digs.
Friday's victory was Ashland's first against SVSU since Oct. 23, 2015, and continues the Eagles' best start to a campaign since 2012 (11-2).
Ashland will finish the home weekend with another GLIAC match on Saturday (Sept. 15) at 2 p.m. vs. Lake Superior State (1-11, 0-4).