ASHLAND, Ohio – After a busy weekend in which the Eagles played 12 sets in three days, they had plenty of time to rest for an interdivision GLIAC volleyball matchup against Northern Michigan.
On Friday (Sept. 16), the Eagles dispatched the Wildcats in straight sets (25-16, 25-23, 25-23) at Kates Gymnasium. It is the second straight-set win for AU this season. NMU entered the weekend in the Others Receiving Votes category of the latest AVCA Coaches' Poll.
The Eagles (5-3, 3-1 GLIAC) never trailed in the first set, racing out to an 11-6 lead on the service of sophomore Megan Rohlfs (Loveland, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame).
"Our energy level was really high today," said AU head coach Cass Dixon. "We had a relaxed confidence.
"The two main points we've been working on this week were serving and blocking and we did a fantastic job in those areas tonight," she added.
Four Eagles had multiple kills in the first set, including senior Anesia Benton (Lima, Ohio/Senior), who led the Eagles with three of her eight total kills.
Susie Jonas (Harrison, Ohio) and Kathy Fletcher (West Chicago, Ill./Community) had two kills apiece from their positions on the front row. Jonas finished the match with eight kills and Fletcher added seven.
Junior Crystal Elliott (Canal Winchester, Ohio) distributed 39 assists for AU and had four block assists to lead the Eagles in that category.
"Our middles are doing a great job of working in transition and Crystal is able to see them," said Dixon. "She's making really great choices. She's able to see our opponent's blockers and where they're releasing to and she's able to get our middles involved."
The Eagles prevailed in a see-saw second set that saw four lead changes. With sophomore Kate Eckels (Loveland, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) serving and AU leading 19-18, the Eagles went on a roll, getting two straight kills from junior Brittany Snider (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) and then two aces from Eckels.
A kill by Alyx Crislip (Louisville, Ohio) gave AU a 24-20 lead, but NMU scored the next three points. After an Ashland timeout, Jonas pounded a kill for the set win.
Snider had six kills in the set and Jonas added five.
Fletcher and Jonas had four kills apiece in the third set, which the Eagles led for much of the way. After Ashland led, 18-11, the Wildcats went on a 12-4 run and took a 23-22 lead.
Snider put down a kill, followed by Benton's kill and another by Snider to end the match. Snider finished with a team-high 12 kills in the match and hit .189.
The Eagles hit .241 for the match and limited the Wildcats to just .173 offensively. Ashland was not blocked on any attacks in the match.
Eckels led the Eagles on the back line with 16 digs and senior Arian Martin (Independence, Ohio) recorded 10.
"Defensively, Kate Eckels and Arian Martin were fantastic in the back row," said Dixon. "We were working on channeling as many balls to Arian as possible. We had a game plan and they stuck to it."
The Wildcats were led by Emma Wolfe, who registered 15 kills, and Abby Lovell, who had 35 assists. Libero Kalin Zimmerman had 16 digs.
The Eagles will host Michigan Tech on Saturday (Sept. 17) with the first serve scheduled to go up at 2 p.m. at Kates Gymnasium.