Returning to Kates Gymnasium for the first time in 20 days, Ashland University's volleyball team swept Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe Northwood, 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-17) on Friday (Oct. 25) night.
With their fourth victory in a row, the #RV Eagles, in first place in the GLIAC South Division, improve to 19-4 overall and 8-2 in the conference. The Timberwolves are 4-16, 4-6.
"It's felt like a long time, that's for sure," Ashland head coach Kevin Foeman said of his team's extended action away from home. "Any time you play here, it's nice."
The first set saw the Eagles trailing 23-21 before going on a 5-1 run to go up in the match, 1-0. Northwood hit .389 in the first set, but just .103 in the next two sets.
Ashland, however, maintained its strong hitting throughout the match, ending with a team hitting percentage of .308. The offensive production was spread out on Friday night, as four Eagles had anywhere from 8-11 kills, led by junior outside hitter Brooke Peiffer's 11.
"We looked like we were rusty, and we were," Foeman said of the start of the match. "McKinley had been sick all week, she hadn't practiced at all, so this was the first time she could get on the court. Brooke, Erin (sophomore outside hitter Erin Krupar), Cuds (senior middle blocker/outside hitter Sophi Cudworth) all had taken time off this week due to nagging injuries, so we looked like we hadn't practiced all week. And we had to kind of get that wake-up call, and we did.
"Offensively, we did what we need to do to win."
The Eagles are 10-1 at home this season, and have won 23 of their last 26 matches at "The Kates."
Ashland will come back to Kates Gymnasium on Saturday (Oct. 26) at 5 p.m. for a matchup with No. 18-ranked Ferris State. Five program Ashland University Hall of Famers will be recognized, more than two dozen alumni are expected to be in attendance, an in-house DJ will supply music throughout the match, and the winner of the costume contest during the match will be featured on next week's #WallpaperWednesday on the AU athletics Twitter and Instagram accounts.
"If we have a chance at the end, and our girls play hard and have fun, then that's all we're really looking for," Foeman said. "Hopefully, we'll have a good crowd, and they'll get their money's worth."