CSE vs. Cooper Union
In a match that was never in doubt from the first 10 service points when the Eagles stormed out to an 8-2 lead, CSE controlled the tempo of each set and dictated play to take the Lady Hawks out in three sets (25-18, 15-14, 25-13).
The Eagles offense benefited from numerous free ball opportunities created by the serving pressure and attack pressure applied by numerous Eagle players. CSE converted these opportunities at a season high rate of .214 led by the outside offense of Captain Kareemah Muhammad and Katie Cooper. Kareemah hit for 13 kills out of 23 attempts and only one error for a record breaking .522 rate, placing her as the number one attack percentage leader in a single match in CSE history. Muhammad and K. Cooper combined for 20 kills out of 43 attempts to pace the Eagle offense.
Rachel Hausler continued her outstanding passing to trigger the offense with a perfect 14/14 reception rate and a 2.42 pass rating. K. Cooper was nearly as flawless going 10/11 with a 2.0 rating.
Captain Chanice Sears paced the serving offense with 5 aces out of 16 attempts, accounting for half of the team's aces in the match.
Overall, this was a match that the Eagles controlled from start to finish and posed few problems for the team. The third set was nearly flawless. The team hit for only seven kills (out of 13 attempts) but had no errors (.538 rate). CSE also passed perfectly in the set (nine of nine) at a 2.44 rating and added five aces out of 25 attempts (20%) in a dominant end to the match.
Considering that the Eagles lost in 4 to Cooper Union last year at the onset of the season and won in five at Cooper Union later on, this was a great indicator as to how far the team has come in such a short time.
CSE vs. Culinary
In an expected tight match versus Culinary Lady Steels, the outcome of the match was predicated on CSE's ability to return serve, convert on offense and prevent the Lady Steels of Culinary to find their two main offensive weapons. For the most part, the Eagles were able to serve receive well (2.09 rating), run offense (39 kills), and, in effect, shut down 1 of Culinary's offensive weapons. However, unforced hitting errors and service errors proved to be the deciding factor as the Eagles gave away 44 points (34 hitting errors and 10 service errors) in the match.
Set number one started off as well as the Eagles could have hoped for. The team stormed out to a 7-3 lead, extended that lead to 15-8 and never looked back as the Eagles took the set 25-20. Muhammad continued her amazing Saturday with a six kill - one error performance out of the outside (.500 efficiency) in the first set to pace the offense. The team was also perfect in terms of service receptions (18/18) led as usual by Hausler's 11/11 passing (2.44 rating).
The second set, however, was a mirror opposite of the first set as it unfolded. The Eagles trailed 7-3 early and 7-12 but stormed back to tie the score at 15 behind the serving of K. Cooper and offense of Muhammad. After the Lady Steels extended the lead to 23-19, many fans at the Nest probably thought that the set was over but, true to the way the Eagles have played all year, the players never stopped believing they could come back and behind the serving of Jenae Goodson, CSE stormed back to within two at 24-22 but couldn't overcome the deficit and fell 25-22.
The third set began much the same way the prior set did with the Eagles trailing early and having to fight back into the match. Down 12-4, the Eagles mounted another furious comeback behind the serving of libero Hausler who forced the Lady Steels offense to sputter and collapse as the Eagles in a matter of 5 minutes had cut the lead to 2 at 12-10. But then, adversity hit the squad. Hausler sprained her ankle to the point that she could not continue in the set. Luisa Solano came off the bench to spell Hausler and promptly aced out the Lady Steels to bring CSE to within one but the Lady Steels were able to break serve and without Hausler in the match they exploited the vulnerable CSE serve receive and pushed the lead back up and controlled the set at 21-13.
Hausler returned into the match in the midst of this run then and, although limited in movement, was able to stabilize the serve receive and defensive patterns immediately and the Eagles created good offensive opportunities but were unable to convert. The Eagles continued to battle and crawled back to within 3 at 23-20 going on a 7-2 run, but couldn't climb all the way back, dropping the set 25-20.
In the pivotal fourth set, defensive and serve receive adjustments were made due to Hausler's injury that put the pressure on Misato Oya, Ibmatu Sesay and K. Cooper to cover more of Hausler's passing area. The Eagles seemed to get an emotional lift from having Hausler on the court but still struggled to put the ball away and fell behind yet again 10-4. But the heart of this team is not to be questioned as they stormed back to take the lead behind the serving of Hausler and the offense of K. Cooper and Sears who combined for four kills in a 8-2 run that saw the Eagles tie the score at 12. Goodson continued to put on pressure from the service line as she tacked on a few more aces and put the Lady Steels on their heels as the Eagles jumped out front 15-13.
Perhaps it was the result of the immense amount of energy the Eagles expended coming back in three sets or perhaps it was the Lady Steels hitting the zones Hausler could not physically cover anymore but regardless of the reason, the Eagles began to commit errors at this juncture that cost them dearly. From 15-13 on, Culinary went on a 10-4 run that saw the Eagles commit four hitting errors and one service error. Meanwhile, Culinary hit for five kills to CSE's two and it sealed the Eagles' fate as the team lost the set and match 25-19.
Another great gutsy effort by the Eagles in the end, showing great resolve and a no quit attitude that is exemplary and bodes well for the future but ultimately the Eagles know that they squandered an opportunity to get within 1 game of .500 for the season.