No. 3 Mounties to Host Xavier University of Louisiana in NAIA Championship First Round

LA GRANDE, Ore.- The NAIA announced all qualifiers and opening round pairings for the 2023 NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Championship Opening Round on Monday morning. It comes as no surprise that the No. 3 ranked Mountaineers are hosting their opening round matchup as it was announced that they will be taking on the Gold Nuggets from the Xavier University of Louisiana in La Grande, Ore.
 
This year’s bid to the National Tournament marks the 10th straight appearance for the Mounties. Eastern has made it to the big stage every year dating back to 2014.
 
As the No. 3 team in the nation, the CCC Regular-Season Champion and the CCC Tournament Champion, Eastern earned hosting rights to play the Opening Round of the National Tournament at home inside Quinn Coliseum. EOU will take on the Gold Nuggets at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19.
 
The Mountaineers are coming off yet another historic regular-season run that has seen them pick up accomplishments and awards left and right. Finishing the regular-season with only one loss, Eastern currently sits at 30-1 on the year and put together their best regular season performance in program history. Eastern currently is riding a 19-game win streak into the National Tournament.
 
Defense has once again been one of the Mountaineers strongest facets this season. More specifically, it has been their play at the net that has helped lift the Mounties to a No. 3 ranking as they currently rank fourth in the nation in blocks per set averaging 2.63. Two Mounties rank inside the top 10 in blocks per set. At No. 6 is Kiauna Mack averaging 1.39 blocks per set and not far behind is Mylie Mills averaging 1.28 blocks per set.
 
On the offensive side Eastern has once again relied on a strong and balanced attack. Senior outside hitter Sade Williams has paced the Mounties with 275 kills on they year averaging 2.55 per set. Overall the Mounties have four players with over 200 kills including Williams, Ashton Haughton, Madison Morgan, and Keira Vaughn. All together EOU is hitting .224 on the year.
 
Their opponent this coming Saturday has put up strong numbers through 26 matches on the year. Sitting at 19-7, the Gold Nuggets are averaging 12.47 kills per set on .211 hitting. Defensively they are averaging 2.17 blocks per set and 14.51 digs per set as a team.
 
Individually, the Gold Nuggets rely heavily on senior outside hitter Kennedy Wade and sophomore outside hitter Sydney Murray who are averaging 3.8 and 2.63 kills per set respectively. Defensively, junior libero Ruxandra Flueras has held down the back end averaging 5.09 digs per set while freshman right side Taylor Parker has put together a strong year at the net averaging 1.16 blocks per set.
 
The two teams will go head-to-head on Saturday at 1 p.m. inside Quinn Coliseum. The winner will earn their spot as one of 24 teams to make it to the final site, the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Pool play is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

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