AFTON — East Union proved to be too strong for Orient-Macksburg here Tuesday night, beating the Bulldogs 25-11, 25-15, 25-14 in the Class 1A Region 3 quarterfinals.
The theme throughout the night was Orient-Macksburg being able to keep sets close in the early portions, before East Union went on a run to pull away for the set victory.
In the first set, Orient-Macksburg cut East Union's lead to 6-5 before the Eagles went on an eight-point run with Shelby Smith serving, including a pair of aces from Smith. The Bulldogs once again cut into EU's lead, this time at 15-10, but the Eagles responded with a 10-1 run to close out the set in commanding fashion.
The two teams traded points in the second set when the Bulldogs cut an East Union lead to 16-14.
But once again, the Eagles responded with a big run to close out the set, finishing on a 9-1 run to take a 2-0 lead in sets.
"We played scared all night — scared we were going to make a mistake, scared we were going to be in the wrong place — instead of just relaxing a little," Orient-Macksburg head coach Dan McKinney said. "We played tight all night long."
The third set followed a similar storyline, as Orient-Macksburg tied the set up at 5-5, but East Union quickly made it 20-9 on its way to winning the set 25-14.
"I thought we did a real good job of talking, attacking the ball well, moving things around," East Union head coach Gail Thatcher said. "The girls really worked. Dusti Carlisle really did a great job in the back row moving around, taking the free balls and anything they brought over, and making it playable for us."
Carlisle finished the match with 14 digs, which led to successful setting by Rochelle Means. Means dished up 31 assists in the match.
East Union used a balanced attack at net to keep Orient-Macksburg off balance. Amber Friend led the Eagles with 11 kills, while Kelsey Hoff added eight and Smith finished with seven.
"They were real good on their passing game," McKinney said. "And in the last two games, they hit the ball pretty hard at us."
Smith and Friend both had successful nights serving the ball, as well. Smith finished 21-of-23 with four aces, while Friend went 20-21 with two aces.
Orient-Macksburg finishes the season 9-13 overall.
"We had a good season," McKinney said. "We had a good bunch of seniors. It's going to be hard to replace them. The season went smooth as far as parents, players and everything. Got along real well together."
East Union advances to take on Murray at 7 p.m. Friday in Afton in the regional semifinals.
East Union statistics
Serving (aces) — Amber Friend 20-21 (2), Shelby Smith 21-23 (4), Rochelle Means 7-7, Kelsey Hoff 8-9 (1), Brittany Malone 8-9, Dusti Carlisle 4-5.
Attacks (kills) — Friend 22-26 (11), Hoff 11-13 (8), Smith 13-19 (7), Chay Blondowski 4-6 (4), Means 8-10 (2), Malone 5-6 (2).
Blocks (solo-assists) — Friend 1-0, Smith 1-0, Hoff 1-0.
Setting (assists) — Means 31.
Digs — Carlisle 14, Smith 9, Friend 5, Means 5, Hoff 5, Malone 4.