Local rival Gonzaga takes on Eastern Washington on Tuesday, Portland State Makes Trip for Friday Evening Contest
After completing the first half of a four-match home stand with a pair of wins, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team wraps up that home stretch with visits from Gonzaga and Portland State on Tuesday and Friday (Oct. 6 and 9), respectively. First serves will be at 7 p.m. each night.
The Eagles bring a perfect 5-0 Big Sky Conference mark into this week's action, 10-5 overall. Most recently, EWU took a pair of 3-1 wins over Idaho and Sacramento State last week. Overall, the Eagles have won six straight overall contests as well as 13 straight at home dating to the beginning of the 2008 season.
Gonzaga has won two straight matches to improve to 5-8, defeating Montana 3-1 last week as well as Portland 3-0 in its West Coast Conference opener.
After the Eagles dominated the series between the teams, winning 15 straight, the teams have played tight the past three years. Gonzaga took a 3-2 win in 2006 to snap that losing streak, then followed that up with a sweep in 2007. A year ago, the Eagles completed a five-set road win over the Bulldogs.
Portland State, the defending Big Sky Tournament champions after the second-place Vikings toppled the regular-season champion Eagles in the league's championship match, will visit Cheney next. This year, PSU is 4-1 in Big Sky play, currently in third place, and 9-6 overall.
In their last outing, the Vikings earned a home 3-1 win over Sacramento State on Saturday (Oct. 3). Portland State will play at Seattle University on Wednesday (Oct. 7) prior to making the trip east.
Last year, Eastern took each of the regular-season matches between the foes, 3-1 at home and 3-0 in the Rose City, before the Vikings were victorious at home in the title tilt, 3-1.
Petroni Rides 33-Dig Performance to Big Sky Player of the Week Accolades
After tallying 57 career digs leading into last week, sophomore libero Lindsey Petroni nearly doubled that total with 47 in two matches in helping the Eagles to 3-1 wins over Idaho and Sacramento State on Wednesday and Friday (Sept. 30 and Oct. 2), respectively.
She was then rewarded for her outstanding performances with Big Sky Conference Co-Player of the Week accolades. In doing so, Petroni became the first defensive-focused player in Eastern Washington history to ever earn this award.
Most notably, she tallied 33 digs in the Idaho contest, a total that tied for the seventh-highest total in school history. In fact, it tied for the second-most in school annals in a match less than five sets long. That feat earned her the 17th spot in Eastern's 30-dig club.
Her dig total in that match is also tied for the fifth-most by any NCAA Division I player this year in a contest four sets or fewer (national statistics are through matches played on Sept. 28). It is also the most by any Big Sky player so far in 2009 in a match that did not go the maximum five sets.
The Spokane, Wash., native then followed that up with a solid 14-dig performance in the Big Sky win over the Hornets two days later. For the week, Petroni averaged 5.88 digs per set. She also contributed seven assists and two service aces in the two matches.
Incredibly, every single one of her 57 career digs leading into the UI match had come away from home.
Petroni shared this week's award with Idaho State's Emily Waldron, who had a pair of double-doubles in helping the Bengals to a 2-0 road trip.
Hills Nears Second on Career Kills List
Senior outside hitter Hayley Hills keeps climbing Eastern Washington's all-time kills chart. With 24 over the weekend, she pushed her career total to 1,243, good for third place on the illustrious list. The senior is now just 25 away from the second spot, which is held by Janelle Ruen, who had 1,268 from 1999-2002.
Kim Exner (1995-98) holds the school mark of 1,860.
Hills is also currently second in school history in kills per set, embedded into that slot with a 3.90 average. Holding the record is Exner (4.43), while in third is Juli Argotow (3.42).
Hills earned her 1,000th kill in a 3-1 win at Sacramento State on Nov. 21 of last year.
Following her impressive performance in wins over Montana and Montana State on Sept. 18 and 19, respectively, Hills was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week.
Those two matches, she averaged 4.71 kills and 3.14 digs per set in helping the Eagles to 3-1 and 3-0 respective wins over the Grizzlies and Bobcats.
Hamilton Named Big Sky Player of the Week
Senior setter Ashley Hamilton was an all-around offensive force in helping the Eagles to a pair of road victories from Sept. 25-26.
She helped lead the team to its best hitting percentage of the season (and second-best by any Big Sky team so far in 2009), .390, in a 3-0 sweep of Weber State after setting the team to a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down at Idaho State in a 3-2 win.
Individually, the Alpine, Utah, native averaged 12.25 assists per set, but also was an intimidating offensive threat herself, as she hit at a .600 clip in the two road matches (14-2-20). Defensively, she was solid, averaging 2.50 digs and 0.62 blocks per set in the two contests.
In the five-set win in Pocatello, Hamilton had 55 assists, her highest total of the season and the seventh-highest total by a Big Sky player in 2009. Hamilton hit .500 (8-2-12) that night. She also did the job defensively, as her 14 digs that night was a career high for the setter.
Hamilton had 43 assists in the sweep of the Wildcats, which is a very impressive number for a match just three sets long. It actually comes out to a higher assists-per-set ratio then she achieved the night before (14.33 versus 11.00). She also hit at a .750 clip (6-0-8) in that WSU match.
The award is the first for Hamilton.
Eagles Rank Nationally in Average Attendance
The Eastern Washington Eagles have earned the attention of the greater Spokane area and it has shown, as the team is averaging 886 fans per contest, an average that ranks the squad 45th in the country.
EWU ranks 10th among all West Coast teams (i.e. those located within the Pacific Time Zone).
The highlight of the home schedule came on Sept. 18 when 1,311 saw the Eagles knock off Montana in four sets. That crowd was the largest for a home contest since Nov. 11, 2006, in a match also against Montana.
The Eagles have ranked in the top 40 in attendance in 11 of the past 12 years.
The team is also expecting significant crowds this week with visits coming from local rival Gonzaga as well as Portland State, who finished second behind Eastern in the Big Sky Conference standings a year ago before defeating the Eagles in the league's championship match.
The Eagles have won 13 straight contests at Reese Court, after going 9-0 at home a year and claiming the first four home matches of 2009.
Comeback From 2-0 Down
The Eastern Washington Eagles went into the locker rooms in their match at Idaho State on Sept. 25 down 25-17, 25-21, but rallied to complete an impressive 3-2 victory with 25-21, 25-17, 15-13 set victories.
The rally from 2-0 down was the first for head coach Miles Kydd since he took over the Eagles at the beginning of the 2008 campaign and was the initial one for the EWU program since a 25-30, 23-30, 30-18, 30-19, 15-10 victory over Colgate on Aug. 31, 2007.
Busy First Month for Eagles
The Eastern Washington Eagles played some pretty impressive competition the first three weeks of the season, including three teams currently ranked in the top 25, each on its home courts.
To conclude the pre-conference portion of the schedule, the Eagles played well in a trip to the Bay Area with its two defeats coming to a pair of teams who are either nationally ranked or receiving votes for the top-25 poll.
Following a couple tight sets in a 25-13, 25-23, 29-27 road loss to Saint Mary's, who is now 10-3 and receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll, the Eagles rallied to beat San Jose State 21-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-20.
Eastern then took 19-12 and 18-12 leads in the first and third sets, respectively, before falling on the road to California, currently ranked 15th, by 25-22, 25-19, 25-20 scores.
The previous weekend, EWU defeated opponents from Conference USA (Houston) and the Western Athletic Conference (Nevada) by 3-1 scores before battling No. 22 Arizona, the host of the Marriott University Park Wildcat Classic, in an exciting four-set affair the undefeated Wildcats took 3-1.
The Eagles opened their season on Aug. 28 with a 3-1 defeat of Missouri State. The Bears had played in the 2008 NCAA Tournament and are receiving top-25 votes, as well. Eastern's two losses that weekend came to teams that played in the 2008 NCAAs, No. 11 Oregon and San Francisco.
Coviare Named to All-Oregon Classic Team
Chenoa Coviare had an outstanding opening weekend for the Eagles and was rewarded for her efforts with All-Oregon Classic accolades.
In the three matches played from Aug. 28-29, she hit .365 (25-6-52) and contributed 1.20 blocks and 0.70 digs per set.
Coviare helped Eastern to a 3-1 win over Missouri State and tough-fought losses to No. 11 Oregon and San Francisco.
Coviare and Hamilton Named All-Tourney
For the second weekend in a row, Chenoa Coviare was named to an all-tournament team, this time at the Marriott University Park Wildcat Classic. She was joined on the squad by Ashley Hamilton.
Coviare had 2.25 kills and 0.83 blocks per set in Eastern's three matches at the tournament.
Arizona transfer Hamilton played well in her old stomping grounds, averaging 6.58 assists per set and hitting at a .296 clip (12-4-27).
The talented duo helped the Eagles to an impressive 2-1 showing at the tournament, which included 3-1 wins over Houston and Nevada and a good showing in a 3-1 loss to host Arizona.
Coviare and Hills Earn Tourney Honors
After helping the Eagles to a second-place showing at the Molten/Hilton Garden Inn Classic, Chenoa Coviare and Hayley Hills earned All-Tournament honors.
In the two matches, a 3-1 win over San Jose State and a 3-0 loss to host and 13th-ranked California, Coviare hit at a .343 clip (19-7-35) to go with 1.43 blocks per set.
Hills had a team-high 3.00 kills per set. She also contributed 2.14 digs per set as well as 0.29 blocks per set.
Against SJSU, Coviare had 12 kills and hit .455 (14-4-22), while Hills contributed 14 digs.
Versus the Golden Bears, Hills tallied 13 kills and hit .290 (13-4-31), while Coviare had three blocks.
Eagles Beat 2008 NCAA Participant
The Eagles started off their 2009 campaign on a high note, outlasting Missouri State 25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 25-21 at the Oregon Classic on Aug. 28.
The win was especially impressive, as the Bears played in the 2008 NCAA Tournament and are receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll.
Eastern Washington controlled the first two sets and then had to battle back from significant deficits in the third and fourth sets.
The Eagles did so successfully in set four, rallying from 5-0 and 10-3 deficits and then pulling away from a 21-21 tie with the final four points of the contest.
Big Sky Championship in Cheney
After claiming the Big Sky Conference's regular-season title in 2008, the Eagles earned the right to play host to the 2009 Tournament.
The semifinals will take place at 5 and 7 p.m. on Nov. 27, while the title contest will take place at 7 the following evening.
The winner of that match will earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, which starts the following weekend.