The Chadron State College volleyball team and its new coach, Jennifer Stadler, got the season off to a promising start by winning three of four matches during the Best Western West Hills Inn Classic they hosted last weekend.

The Eagles had to display some grit to emerge with their winning record. It took five sets to win both their first and last matches. They nudged South Dakota Mines 18-16 in the fifth set Friday afternoon and clinched the final match against Montana State-Billings 15-10 Saturday night in the classic’s last set.

In between, the Eagles swept Fort Hays State on Friday night and were swept by the Sioux Falls Cougars on Saturday afternoon.

Sioux Falls also defeated its three opponents in three sets while South Dakota Mines, Billings and Fort Hays all finished with 1-3 records.

“I am really proud of this team; it was a complete team effort,” Stadler said. “Our effort, resilience and energy were all outstanding. I thought we improved set by set. There are a few things we need to clean up, but overall I think we had a great start to the season.”

It was the first time in 26 years that the Eagles had opened their season at home.

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The Eagles were balanced and displayed solid depth during the classic. Senior Shelly Schouten and freshman Rylee Greiman led the team with 29 kills apiece. Sophomores Chandler Hageman and Aracely Hernandez and freshman setter Tori Strickbine each had 18 kills.

Hageman, the Chadron native, had just five errors among her 42 hits while posting a team-high .310 hitting percentage. She also led with eight total blocks.

Strickbine was credited with 95 sets, including 40 in the final match against Billings. Libero Ashton Burditt led in digs with 76 and Karli Noble had 11 ace serves to pace the Eagles.

This weekend, the Eagles will enter a classic at Fort Hays State. Their first opponent on Friday will be the host Tigers. They’ll meet Newman University of Kansas later that day and play Northwest Oklahoma State and Southern Arkansas on Saturday.

Each of those teams also opened its season by playing in classics last weekend. Newman finished 0-4, Northwest Oklahoma was 1-3 and Southern Arkansas was 1-2.

The Eagles will open their RMAC schedule by hosting Adams State on Friday, Sept. 20 and Fort Lewis the following evening in the Chicoine Center.

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