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Mounties’ Historic Run Ends in Semis

by Dawson Forcella, SID

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Eastern Oregon University Volleyball’s incredible run ended with a loss to No. 4 Corban in the NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Championship Semifinals Monday evening. Eastern took the first set before dropping three straight to the Warriors (27-25, 19-25, 19-25, 17-25).
“Unfortunately, this match didn’t go the way we wanted and it’s a hard feeling when we know we could have played better,” Head Coach Kaki McLean Morehead said. “Having said that, this season has been an incredible one and one that I, and we, are incredibly proud of.”
Eastern came out of the gates hot hitting .257 while holding Corban to .152 hitting. The Mountaineers ­­­jumped out to a 3-0 lead from the start and battled with Corban to the end. In the first set, the lead exchanged hands nine times with each team making big runs in the middle. Ultimately it was the Mountaineers who prevailed taking a 27-25 set victory thanks to a Cambree Scott kill and Corban error.
A crucial second set played a big part in determining the match. The two teams exchanged blows from the start again. The Mounties had some momentum up 11-7 after another Cambree Scott kill before the Warriors went on a 5-0 run to take the lead. Corban took control a few minutes later going on another run, this time a 4-0 run that was started by an Avari Ridgway kill for the Warriors. A few plays later one of the biggest events of the match took place when Ashton Haughton and Hailey Arritola collided going after a ball to bring the game to a standstill. Both players later returned to the match, but the Mounties couldn’t recover as Corban pulled away to take the set. A Rylee Troutman kill finished it off to even the match up at one set each.
Eastern, who was still on shaky ground after the last set’s events, found themselves on the wrong end of a 7-1 run to start the third. Eastern battled back after several small runs coming within two points of the Warriors after Sade Williams knocked down her fourth kill of the set to make it 17-19. That was the closest the Mounties came as Corban outscored Eastern 6-2 down the stretch to take the 25-19 set win and go up 2-1.
One set victory away from a national championship berth, the Warriors grabbed a 5-2 lead from the jump aided by a 4-0 run. With the lead in their grasp, Corban never relented on their way to the match clinching victory. EOU gave it their best shot to come back going on a 5-0 run with a couple of Williams kills to make it 18-15 still in the Corban’s favor, but the momentum didn’t last. Corban outscored Eastern 7-2 to take the match and a spot in the National Championship.
The semifinal loss marks the end of a historic run for Eastern Oregon Volleyball. The 2022 season saw numerous program firsts for EOU including EOU’s first ever No. 1 ranking among all sports and EOU Volleyball’s first ever NAIA Championship Semifinal appearance. Other highlights included two double-digit win streaks of 19 and 15 matches, a CCC regular season and tournament championship, a nation-leading 2.95 blocks per set average, and an incredible 34-3 record.
“To be able to dream big set huge goals, and climb new mountains with this special group of women has been an incredible experience and I am proud of every single one of them.,” McLean Morehead said.



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