BELPRE -Three days after suffering their first loss in nearly two years, the Eastern Eagles played nearly to perfection as they knocked off the Belpre Golden Eagles 25-8, 25-6, 25-6 Tuesday evening.
Eastern dominated from the first point of the game - a fierce spike by junior Madison Rigsby - to the final point when Belpre watched a pass sail out of bounds.
In the game, Belpre managed just five service points and three kills. Conversely, Eastern had 57 service points and 31 kills and not once did Belpre score more than two points in a row.
Belpre's Katelyn Hughes (14) tries to make a block on Eastern's Jordan Parker (12) during the first game of a volleyball match in Belpre Tuesday night. Eastern won in three games. (Photo by Kevin Pierson)
"(Tuesday) night we didn't want to make anymore than two mistakes in a row," said veteran Eastern volleyball coach Howie Caldwell.
Mistakes for Eastern proved to be few and far between, and the youthful Belpre squad struggled to keep pace with a team that advanced to the state final four a year ago and had won 28 straight matches until Saturday's loss to Marietta.
"We're a young team and when you come up against such a big and strong team as Eastern, it puts a damper on things," explained Belpre volleyball coach Stephanie Evans.
Coming out of the gates Eastern demonstrated it had something to prove after falling to Marietta in three games in the Athens tournament over the weekend.
Rigsby's spike propelled Eastern on an early run as the Reedsville girls enjoyed a 6-1 advantage after just seven points.
The Golden Eagles made the score 6-2 on a spike into the net, but Eastern would rattle off several more points as it built a lead of 22-6, again on a Rigsby kill. Belpre would get no closer than 16 the rest of the first game as Eastern closed it out 25-8 when a Belpre spike hit the net.
In the opening contest Belpre managed just a single service point and one kill, a hard spike by sophomore Kirsten Hannah that made the score 10-3 in favor of Eastern.
Eastern, meanwhile, piled up 16 points and 15 kills in the opening game with all six starters having more service points individually than Belpre as a team. Six Eastern players also had at least one kill and in the game the Eagles of Reedsville Eastern had four different girls record as many or more kills than Belpre did as a team.
"We're able to move the ball around," Caldwell said. "We've got different kids that can kill the ball."
The same pattern held true for the second game, as Eastern had 37 points and 24 kills as a team opposed to just three points and three kills for Belpre.
Eastern built an 11-1 lead on junior Jordan Parker's kill, as the standout athlete had a game high 12 kills to go with 13 points and six aces.
The lead ballooned to 20-2 in favor of Belpre on a spike into the net by the Golden Eagles, but Belpre managed to score four of the next nine points to fall 25-6 in the second game, with Katie Keller's spike ending the game in favor of Eastern.
"We just have to stay positive, keep working on improving every game, every practice," Evans said.
Game 3 saw Eastern again build and early advantage, leading 7-1 on a serve out of bounds by Belpre.
Junior Erin Swatzel then took command at the service stripe as she rattled off six straight points, including a trio of aces as she finished with a game high 18 points to go with six aces, six kills and three blocks.
Belpre could never rally the troops in the third game, falling behind 21-6 on Parker's kill. Parker then notched three straight aces to setup match point, with Eastern taking the victory on a hit out of bounds.