Eagles sweep Pioneers
Yoder’s 15 kills, Mercurio’s 39 assists lead Embry-Riddle
PRESCOTT – Jalin Yoder had a match-high 15 kills, Hannah Mercurio added 39 assists and the Embry-Riddle volleyball team tightened its grip on the coveted No. 1 seed in the Cal-Pac conference with a 3-0 sweep over Pacific Union on Friday afternoon.
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It is the 11th sweep of the season for the Eagles.
Embry-Riddle (16-3, 9-1 Cal-Pac) leads second-place Benedictine-Mesa (16-4, 8-1 Cal-Pac) by half a game for the top seed with four conference matches remaining.
Head coach Jill Blasczyk said she was pleased with how her club “responded” after the Eagles’ school-record 13-match winning streak came to a halt in a 3-1 loss to UC-Merced a week ago.
“I think we learned quite a bit from our loss last week. We can’t afford to be complacent at this point in the season,” Blasczyk said, adding the loss to UC-Merced was a good “mid-conference lesson” to learn.
“I’d rather learn it in the middle of conference than at the end,” she said.
Mercurio added 12 digs and four block assists to her stat total, while Yoder had nine digs and two block assists for the Eagles, which committed only eight attack errors in Friday’s three-game sweep (25-23, 25-19, 25-17) for a .288 hitting percentage.
Yoder said the team “worked hard” in practice this week, and refocused their energy on one goal: Winning the Cal-Pac title.
“The last time we played [Pacific Union], it was similar to today’s match. We knew they were coming and we worked hard,” Yoder said.
The Eagles beat Pacific Union 3-1 on the road in Angwin, California, on Sept. 24.
Jordan Jones, a senior with five kills, four digs and two block assists Friday, said the Eagles made a “conscious decision as a team to stay focused in practice and encourage each other” after last week’s loss.
“One of our team goals is to win the first game of every match. We lost our first game against UC-Merced, and we lost confidence,” Jones said. “We have the experience, and we need that little motivation to play through the match.”
The first of five remaining matches on the regular season schedule for Embry-Riddle comes against Simpson (5-15, 1-8 Cal-Pac) tonight at 7 p.m.
After tonight, Embry-Riddle hits the road to play La Sierra (Oct. 28), Life Pacific (Oct. 29) and Providence Christian (Oct. 29), before returning home to host Benedictine-Mesa in the regular season finale Saturday, Nov. 5.
The Cal-Pac Conference Tournament is scheduled to begin Thursday, Nov. 10, in Riverside, California.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is a sports writer and columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him by phone at 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.