Michael Pierce/ERAU Athletics
The Embry-Riddle volleyball team came within a couple of points of winning the first and third sets on Saturday, but ended up falling short against fourth-ranked Tampa, 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-22). The Eagles fall to 9-2 on the season while the Spartans improve to 9-3.Ana Pajic led the Blue and Gold with 13 kills and picked up nine digs while Evelina Abdurakhmanova added 12 kills and nine digs.Tamires Ferreira tallied 31 assists and Sumerr Paxton collected a team-high 17 digs.
The Eagles dug themselves and early hole in the first set, falling behind 7-1. The lead hovered around the six-point margin for awhile until a 5-0 run pulled Embry-Riddle to within two points (16-14). After UT had doubled the lead to four (20-16), ERAU scored on the next three rallies to make it a one-point set (20-19). Tampa pulled away slightly to a 24-21 advantage before Ashley Humphrey put down a kill to make it 24-22. On the next point, UT’s setter was called for a ball handling error which cut the lead to a single point at 24-23. The Eagles couldn’t draw even, however, as Tampa’s Jessica Wagner came up with a kill on the next rally to end the set at 25-23.
Set two started off much closer as the Eagles kept in contact with the Spartans throughout the first 33 points. With ERAU trailing 18-15, UT went on a 4-0 run to pull away to a comfortable lead (22-15), and the Spartans would go on to take the set, 25-17.
The third set started similarly to the first, with the Blue and Gold falling behind early, this time by a score of 8-2. Embry-Riddle didn’t allow the defending NCAA II national champions to walk away with an easy sweep, however, as the Eagles chipped away at the deficit until it sat at just one point (14-13). The Spartans scored on the next two serves but Embry-Riddle responded with a 4-0 spurt that put the home team in the lead, 17-16. UT came right back with a 4-0 run of their own to regain the lead, 20-17. ERAU mounted one final rally as Pajic scored back-to-back kills followed by a UT werror brought the Eagles to within one (23-22), but Tampa won the next two points to close out the match with a 25-22 set three win.
The Eagles return to the court next Friday, Oct. 2 when they travel to Boca Raton to face Lynn at 7 p.m.