Eastern Kentucky University’s volleyball team lost to New Mexico State, 3-0, and Western Illinois, 3-2, on the first day of the Colonel Challenge at McBrayer Arena on Friday.
The Colonel Challenge will conclude on Saturday. Western Illinois and New Mexico State face off at 11 a.m. Western Carolina and the Colonels playing each other at 1 p.m.
Eastern Kentucky suffered a 25-16 loss in the first set against New Mexico State, but battled close with the Aggies the rest of the match. The Colonels jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the second set, led 10-5 after an Aggie service error and went in front 14-7 on a kill by Molly Michalak. However, New Mexico State swung the set with a 10-2 run that put the visitors in front 17-16 on their way to a 25-22 win.
In the third set, EKU battled back from a 12-6 deficit to get within one, 15-14, on a kill by Michalak. After falling behind by six again, 21-15, the Colonels went on a 7-3 run to keep it close down the stretch. Sarah Mitchell’s kill made it 24-22 before the Aggies scored the final point to win the set and the match.
Mitchell finished with nine kills. Michalak added eight and Mikayla Logan contributed six. Sydney Schoen led all players with 11 digs.
EKU (1-7) fell behind 2-0 to Western Illinois before staging a big comeback. The Colonels took the lead for good in the third set on a kill by Michalak that made it 8-7. Michalak ended the set, 25-21, with another kill. Eastern Kentucky was down three, 13-10, in the fourth set before going on a 5-1 run to take the lead. A kill by Anna Purichia and a WIU error capped it and put the home team on top 15-14. Neither team led by more than one the rest of the set until Michalak had back-to-back kills to end it, 27-25, and force a fifth.
The Colonels took a 6-5 lead in the fifth set on a Western Illinois service error, but the Leathernecks responded with a 10-1 run to end the set, and the match.
Michalak finished the second match with 22 kills and 19 digs. Freshman Kali Walker had 10 kills and just one error. Kennedy Davis led Western Illinois (1-7) with 20 kills.
In the other Colonel Challenge matches on Friday, Western Carolina defeated Western Illinois 3-2 and New Mexico State defeated Western Carolina 3-0.