Freshman Anna Purichia recorded 14 kills in Eastern Kentucky University’s 3-1 victory over the University of North Alabama on Saturday at McBrayer Arena.
EKU will host No. 21 Western Kentucky on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The Colonels won by scores of 25-13, 25-21, 29-31 and 25-20.
Purichia had just six errors in 27 attacks for a .296 hitting percentage. Molly Michalak added 13 kills. Sydney Schoen had 16 digs. Sarah Mitchell and Miya Carmichael combined for seven of the team’s eight aces.
North Alabama had just two aces. The Lions finished with 10 more kills than the Colonels (59-49), but also had 13 more errors. Eastern Kentucky hit .260 as a team while UNA was held to a .190 attack percentage. EKU also out-blocked the visitors 8-4.
Eastern Kentucky rolled to a first set win. A 9-1 run early in the set staked the Colonels to a 12-4 lead. An ace by Carmichael made it 19-10. Kills by Carmichael and Reilly Lowe stretched it to a 13-point lead, 24-11.
After Miya-Cole Brown’s kill late in the second set tied it 21-21 for North Alabama (6-12, 0-5 ASUN), EKU head coach Johnna Bazzani called a timeout. The Colonels responded by scoring the final four points, including a kill by Purichia to cap the 25-21 win.
Mitchell’s ace early in the third gave EKU a 4-1 lead, but the Lions roared back. An 8-3 North Alabama run turned a three-point deficit into a five-point lead, 12-7. Trailing 20-16 late in the set, Eastern Kentucky strung together an 8-2 run to reach match-point at 24-22. However, the Lions stayed alive by winning the next three points. The Colonels had match-point again at 29-28 after a kill from Michalak and a UNA error, but North Alabama answered again. The Lions scored the final three points to extend the match.
EKU (5-13, 2-3 ASUN) scored the first three points of the fourth set, and 10 of the first 13 on its way to securing the win. Kills by Purichia, Katie McKune and Michalak made it a 10-3 advantage. North Alabama got as close as two, 20-18, on a kill from Brown before Eastern Kentucky scored four straight to put it away.
Brown and Katy Floyd led North Alabama with 14 kills each.