YPSILANTI, Mich. – Sophomore Jill Paluch matched her career high with 18 digs, but The University of Akron volleyball team lost in straight sets (18-25, 21-25, 21-25) to Eastern Michigan Saturday night at EMU's Convocation Center. The Zips drop to 4-19 overall and 1-9 in the Mid-American Conference, while the Eagles improve to 19-6 for the season and 7-3 in the league.
For the second-straight match, senior Courtney Jarvis and sophomore Alex Cocklin led Akron with eight kills apiece, while freshman Mary Delich added five on seven attempts with no errors for a .714 hitting percentage. Jarvis also added a season-best 20 digs. Overall, Akron turned in 7.0 team blocks to EMU's 4.0, led by Paiton Twitty with four block assists. On offense, UA finished with a .155 attack percentage, while the Eagles had a mark of .197.
Eastern Michigan took the slight edge early in the first set, but the Zips kept pace and tied it at nine all. EMU opened up a 14-11 lead and then extended it to 17-13 later in the frame. After a UA timeout, the Eagles kept up the pressure, adding two more points to their advantage. Down 13-19, Akron won three consecutive points to creep closer, but a block by Eastern made it 20-16, Eagles.
The Zips kept fighting, and a kill from the right side by Alex Wiederholt made it 22-17, EMU. After a kill from Morgan Kuhn, Akron faced set point at 24-18, and the Eagles closed it out on the following point, 25-18.
In the second set, UA took the early lead and went up 5-3 after another kill by Kuhn. EMU bounced back to even the score at six all, but the Zips won the next two points to gain an 8-6 margin. With things knotted at 10, a block gave Akron the lead again, but EMU tied it up at 11 apiece and took the next three points to take a 14-11 advantage.
Cocklin notched a block to pull Akron within one, and then a kill by Delich evened things at 15 all. The Zips then earned back-to-back points to go up 17-15 and force an EMU timeout. After the break, Eastern answered to tied it at 17 and then took a 19-18 lead until an error evened it at 19.
Another Eagle error gave Akron a 20-19 edge, but again the teams traded points to reach 20-20. Eastern Michigan took the next two points to make it 22-20 late in the frame. Akron added a point, but the Eagles ended the set swiftly at 25-21 after three-straight points.
In the third set, the Zips fell behind again, down 8-5 early in the action. After two points in a row, Akron was within one, but EMU won a long rally on the next point to maintain a 9-7 lead. Delich tallied a kill for UA that later tied it at nine all, but Eastern took the next three to surge ahead 12-9, forcing a Zip timeout.
Out of the break, Akron came back to trail just 12-13, but EMU kept its lead intact and pulled ahead 17-13. Wiederholt added a point for UA, and the Zips brought it back to 15-17, but another Eagle kill helped EMU continue to hang on. Down 19-16, Wiederholt slammed another kill, and Akron tied it at 19 all with two more points.
Eastern ended the run with three consecutive kills to take a 22-19 lead and gain control of the set. After a UA timeout, the Zips notched a kill, but then a service error made it 23-20, EMU. The Eagles earn match point at 24-20, and Akron managed to save one to stay alive, but Eastern claimed the set and the match on the next point.
The Zips will remain on the road next weekend, with trips to Buffalo on Thursday, Oct. 27 and Toledo on Saturday, Oct. 29.