Eastern sweeps in regionals against Stevenson, move on to quarterfinals
HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Eastern advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time in school history with a 25-17, 25-19, 25-23 victory against the Stevenson (37-3) on Sunday.
The Eagles swept through the NCAA regionals with 3-0 wins against Johns Hopkins, Christopher Newport and Stevenson this weekend. With the victory, Eastern will challenge the Emory in Holland, Mich., on Thursday.
Eastern's Erin Hillman earned NCAA Regional Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. She hit .367 on Saturday, delivering 15 kills on 30 attacks with four errors. In the three regional games, Hillman finished with 36 total kills. Hillman also flourished in last season's regional games, tallying 35 kills then.
Eastern's Rikki Schlager and Kearby Benak were also selected to this year's All-Tournament team.
Eastern powered through the first two sets against Stevenson with a .464 hitting percentage. Hillman hit six kills in the first set, including the set-winner at 25-17. Hillman also concluded the second set with her 10th kill of the match. The Eagles took that set 25-19 before entering a tight third set. Stevenson tied the third game at 14-14 and took the lead on the next play. The Mustangs soon took a two-point advantage leading to an Eastern timeout. Eastern tied the game at 19-19 with a block by Stephanie Elechko and Hillman. Hillman soon tied the score back up at 20-20 with a kill. Stevenson tied the game at 21-21, but a solo block by Elechko and a kill by Katrina Pisch put Eastern in front 23-21.
The Mustangs regained a point after a timeout. Hillman responded with her 15th kill of the match to put the Eagles up 24-22. After an Eastern attack error, the Eagles took a time out, leading by the slimmest of margins. Lauren Sproles finished the match by coming up to the net and returning a Stevenson attempt back to sender.
Besides Sproles' match-ending block, the Eagles picked up eight team blocks. Freshman middle hitter Stephanie Elechko had four solo blocks and a block assist. Katrina Pisch had three block assists. Elechko and Pisch combined for 13 kills.