Eastern hopes to extend three-game winning streak when it hosts the league's No. 2 squad Saturday in the second "Dam Cup" volleyball matchup of 2010
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team finally reached .500 in the conference after two impressive victories against Montana State and Montana. Now in a tie for fourth place in the league standings with a 6-6 record, Eastern will face the Vikings of Portland State on Saturday (Nov. 6) at Reese Court in its sole contest of the weekend. PSU is the No. 2 team in the league, having lost only two matches this season.
"We know they are a good team, and their record proves it," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "They handled us pretty easily at their place, and they have one of the top players in the conference in Whitney Phillips. But coming off a good weekend against the Montana schools, we feel good about ourselves. Our confidence is growing, and we are starting to gel better on the court because we have finally been able to play the same group on a regular basis."
The Eagles have now won three conference matches in a row, including an incredible five-set victory over Montana it its most recent outing. Eastern was down two sets to none, but rallied with a superior defensive effort to top the Grizzlies in five. EWU had a season high 73 kills and 108 digs in the match, while also holding a 5-0 advantage in service aces. Kydd and the entire volleyball staff is encouraged by the desire and determination exhibited by the team as of late.
"Having success in match like we did on Saturday, where we had to dig deep, both literally and figuratively, was gratifying for the team. They showed a lot of fight and a lot of heart, and were rewarded for that effort. There have been times this season when we didn't get rewarded for fighting the good fight, so winning that kind of match certainly helped our confidence."
Eastern will have to use that confidence to its fullest on Saturday, as the Vikings are also coming off a sweep of the Montana schools, and are one of only two teams in the Big Sky with double-digit wins on its record (10-2). In the first meeting of the year between Eastern and Portland State, the Vikings made quick work of EWU, winning in three easy sets (25-15, 25-14, 25-16). The Eagles managed to record just 26 kills on 88 total attempts, while the Vikings had 47 kills on a .396 efficiency.
Despite the lopsided victory in Portland, Eastern is more than ready for the rematch, especially since it takes place on Reese Court. The Eagles have a long history of success against the Vikings when playing in Cheney. Prior to a 3-1 loss to PSU last season, the Eagles had not dropped a home match to Portland State in 14-consecutive meetings, dating back to Oct. 19, 1985. Eight of those 14 victories were 3-0 sweeps, while five others were four-set encounters. Only one match in the last 15 years has gone to five sets.
"Something we talk about often is the importance of winning at home," said Kydd. "We take a lot of pride in defending our home court, and we know it is a difficult place for our opponents to play. If we can feed off the energy of the crowd and fight as well as we did last weekend, I think it should be a great match on Saturday."
Eastern leads the all-time series with Portland State at 26-21, which includes a 23-6 edge in the Big Sky series. In 2009, Portland State swept the regular-season meetings with a 3-1 victory in Cheney and 3-0 upset in Portland, but that was the first time the Vikings had won two regular-season matches against the Eagles since the 1985 season when both teams were part of the Mountain West Conference.
In 2008, Eastern and Portland State met three times, as the teams battled in the championship match of the Big Sky tournament in Portland, Ore. EWU won both contests of the regular season, but then fell to the Vikings in the postseason matchup, which kept the Eagles from advancing to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2001.
Eastern will also be looking to earn two points for the school in the newly created "Dam Cup" rivalry between EWU and PSU. This season, the two schools started a five-sport rivalry cup called The Dam Cup, which celebrates the friendly rivalry between the states of Oregon and Washington within the Big Sky Conference. The so-named rivalry refers to the four dams linking Oregon and Washington that one passes on the 339-mile drive from the Portland State campus to the Eastern Washington campus. Located along the Columbia River, they are Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, The John Day Dam and the McNary Dam.
The five sports competing for the cup are football, women's soccer, women's volleyball, women's basketball and men's basketball. The Dam Cup is based on a point system, with points only rewarded for regular season contests. Each volleyball match between the Eagles and Portland State are worth two points apiece for a total of four points possible toward the school's total for the 2010-11 season.
Eagle News & Notes
Battle of the Best (Phillips vs. Coviare) - This weekend's matchup between Eastern Washington and Portland State will pit the league's best hitter against the top blocker in the Big Sky. PSU's left-side hitter Whitney Phillips leads the Big Sky in kills per set at 5.33, while EWU senior middle blocker Chenoa Coviare is the top blocker in the conference with 1.54 blocks per set in league-only statistics. Both players are also among the top 40 in nation in those respecitve categories for overall season statistics. Coviare is 39th in the NCAA in blocks per set, while Phillips ranks fifth in the nation in kills per set.
Coviare Eclipses 1,000 Career Kills – In Eastern's thrilling five-set victory over Montana, senior middle blocker Chenoa Coviare reached an important milestone herself, as she earned her 1,000th career kill. She finished the game with 13 total kills, which brings her career total 1,011. She tallied 267 kills as a freshman, 224 as a sophomore, 314 during her junior campaign, and has registered 206 already in 2010.
Coviare Closing in on 500 – After tallying 144 total blocks last season, Chenoa Coviare became the fifth-leading blocker in Eastern history. In Eastern's match against UNC on Oct. 16 of this year, she he moved up to No. 4 on the EWU all-time career blocks list. She continues to climb the charts with each match this season, as she now has 103 blocksin 2010, and 470 total in her career. Coviare has recorded six or more blocks in nine of the team's last 11 matches, which includes her season-best of 11 at Sacramento State (Oct. 1). Coviare has had at least 100+ blocks every season since her first year on the court with the Eagles in 2007. She is also among the top 40 blockers in the country with her 1.24 blocks per set average on the season. If she can collect 30 more blocks this season, she will become the only player in EWU history to have 1,000 kills and 500 blocks in a career!
Sizzling Statistics – The Eagles are statistically among the top four teams in the league in six different categories. The team is first overall in blocks (2.69/set) and opponent hitting percentage (.154), third in digs (16.04/set) and fourth in assists (11.78/set), kills (12.62) and hitting percentage (.185). Individually, Chenoa Coviare leads the league in blocks (1.54/set), is fourth in hitting percentage (.327) and eighth in points (3.63/set). Senior Alysha Cook is tenth in the blocking category with 0.86 per set, while Lindsey Petroni is fifth in digs with 4.32 per set. Redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier ranks seventh among setters with 7.44 assists per set, while sophomore Laney Brown is ninth at 5.64 per set. Currently, the Eagles are tied for fourth in the BSC standings with a 6-6 record.
Eagle Endurance - Eastern Washington has played in five five-set matches during the 2010 Big Sky season. Only one other team in the conference has had as many five-set encounters, that being Northern Colorado. The Eagles have a 2-3 record in those marathon matches, with the two wins coming against Weber State and Montana. The Eagles have also lost to Weber State and Montana, as well as dropping the first match of the series to Northern Colorado. Overall, Eastern has played in six five-set matches in 2010.
Eagles Turn in Top Performances in BSC – The EWU volleyball team has had several stellar individual performances that are among the top of the Big Sky Conference's "match highs." Senior Alysha Cook recorded a career-high 29 kills versus Montana (Sept. 17), which ranks third in the BSC for most kills in a match this season. Cook also ranks third in points scored in a single match, as she tallied 32.5 total in the five-set battle in Missoula. Senior Chenoa Coviare turned in the second-best blocking performance in the Big Sky with her 11 blocks in Eastern's narrow loss to Sacramento State (Oct. 1). In the other defensive category, Lindsey Petroni's 32 pickups against Montana (Sept. 17) and Northern Colorado (Oct. 16) are tied for the second-best mark in the BSC. Setters Lindsay Niemeier and Laney Brown rank third and fifth on the assists match high list, with Niemeier recording 57 against Montana (Sept. 17) and Brown 52 versus Seattle (Aug. 28).
Reinstein is Eastern's Scholar Athlete of the Month for September - Allison Reinstein was selected by the Eastern athletics department as its female Scholar-Athlete for the month of September. Reinstein, a native of Livermore, Calif., is pursuing a degree in visual communication design with a minor in business administration. Having just starter her senior year, Reinstein is on track to graduate after the Fall 2010 term, at which point she will enter graduate school at Eastern. Reinstein holds a cumulative GPA of 3.73 and has been named to the Academic All-Big Sky team for three consecutive years. The senior middle blocker has started 15 of Eastern's 16 contests in the 2010 campaign, and ranks first on the squad in attack percentage (.247) and second I total blocks (38). She has tallied 111 kills thus far in the season, and leads the team in service aces with 13. Reinstein turned in her best performance so far in the 2010 season at Idaho on Sept. 10, when she hammered 10 kills with only one error on 19 attempts. That offensive efficiency of .474 was the best recorded by an Eagle all season (of hitters who had 10 or more kills in a match).
Coviare Lays Claim to Weekly Conference Honors – Senior Chenoa Coviare was rewarded for her stellar performances in Eastern's home openers versus Idaho State and Weber State, as she was tabbed as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Sept. 27. The senior from Medford, Ore., played a pivotal role in helping EWU capture its first two victories of the 2010 Big Sky season, and its first wins since the team's first game of the 2010 campaign. In the two games played at Reese Court on Sept. 24 and 25, Coviare recorded a stunning .477 attack percentage with 23 total kills and only two errors in her 47 attempts. She was the only Eagle to hit above .400 on both nights, and averaged 2.56 kills per set in the nine sets she played. In addition to her offensive prowess, Coviare led the team at the net with 16 total blocks. She scored 31.5 total points, which was the most for any player on the squad. She earned her first double-double of the season in Eastern's 3-1 victory against Idaho State, as she recorded 11 kills and 10 blocks. Coviare's first block against the Bengals was the 400th of her career. In the dramatic five-set match against Weber State, Coviare had 12 kills and a team-leading six blocks, four of which came in the crucial fourth and fifth sets. She scored five of the first seven points for Eastern in the rubber game, after she rattled off three quick kills and back-to-back blocks. She also contributed three digs in that match. Head Coach Miles Kydd on Coviare: "I think Chenoa and Whitney Phillips of Portland State are the two most dominant athletes in our conference. Chenoa has the athletic ability to change a match, which is exactly what she did on both Friday (Sept. 24) and Saturday (Sept. 25) night. If you look at the tape from those contests, there are stretches in the fourth game of both matches where she completely took over. The opposition could not get a ball by her."
Cook Makes Statement in Missoula – Senior right-side hitter Alysha Cook earned a new career record when she hammered 29 kills in Eastern's Big Sky opener against Montana on Sept. 17. Her previous career-high for kills was 19, which she recorded against Northern Colorado back in 2007. The Kennewick, Wash., native led all hitters in the match in Missoula, as she committed only four errors in her 51 attempts for a stunning .431 attack percentage. She also contributed a team-leading seven blocks, and also set a new career-record in digs with seven. Cook, who had to sit out the first six matches of the 2010 season due to injury, returned to the lineup on Sept. 9 when EWU faced the Cougars of Washington State.
Double-Double Trouble - So far this season, six different Eagles have recorded double-doubles. Senior captain Jacque Brown leads the way with five, while Sophomore Shelby Puckett and redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier follow with four apiece. Senior Chenoa Coviare, sophomore setter Laney Brown and redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright have all earned two double-doubles in 2010 (see complete notes packet for more details on the Eagle double-doubles).
Coviare Recognized for Strong Play in Pullman - Chenoa Coviare was named to the Nike Cougar Challenge All-Tournament Team for her efforts against Washington State and Cal Poly on Sept. 9 and 10, respectively. The senior from Medford, Ore., recorded 15 kills and six blocks in the two games played in Pullman, Wash. Coviare led the Eagles in the matchup with the Cougars, recording an impressive .350 attack percentage (10-3-20). She also picked up one block and one service ace in the exciting three-set match. As a team, Eastern tallied a season-high 10 blocks against the Cal Poly Mustangs, four of which came at the hands of Coviare. Coviare currently leads the team in blocks this season with 61 total. She averages 1.05 blocks per set, which ranks fourth in the Big Sky Conference.
Reinstein Named to All-Tournament Team - EWU senior middle blocker Allison Reinstein was one of six elite athletes named to the Pepperdine Asics Classic All-Tournament Team, announced Sept. 4 by the tournament officials. She recorded the best attack percentage on the Eagle squad at .219 (12-5-32), while also leading the team at the net with five total blocks. She averaged 1.33 kills per set over the weekend, and tallied three service aces. In total, Reinstein scored 18 points for her team, which was the second-best overall effort for an Eagle at the tournament in Malibu. Reinstein's overall season attack percentage of .257 (95-36-230) is the best on the squad, while ranking eighth in the Big Sky Conference.
Eagles Endure Stringent Schedule - Of the nine opponents appearing on Eastern's pre-Big Sky schedule, five of them had or are still appearing in AVCA Top 25 poll. In the Eagles first weekend of 2010 season, they faced one of the top 10 programs in the nation in Washington. The Huskies were ranked No. 8 at the time, and defeated EWU 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-13). At the Pepperdine Asics Classic, Eastern faced three teams who were all receiving votes in the second AVCA Top 25 poll of the season, released Sept. 6. At the Nike Cougar Challenge Tournament, EWU played Washington State, who earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament last season and Cal Poly, who received 31 votes in the Sept. 6 poll.
Eagles Honored by AVCA - EWU earned the America Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for its triumphs in the classroom during the 2009-10 school year. The AVCA Team Academic Award honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that display excellence in the classroom during the year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 team GPA on a 5.0 scale. Head coach Miles Kydd's team compiled an impressive 3.54 cumulative GPA during the 2009-10 academic year. In addition to the national recognition, the Eags also distinguished themselves in the Big Sky Conference, as 11 members were named to the 2009 BSC All-Academic team; the most for any volleyball squad in the league.
Follow the Eags
If you are unable to cheer on the Eagles courtside, be sure to plant yourself in front of a computer, as all of Eastern Washington's Big Sky Conference matches will be available to view, free of charge, at www.bigskytv.org, including this weekend's match versus Portland State. In fact, you may watch any contest hosted by a Big Sky team throughout the season, not only in volleyball, but also in football and men's and women's basketball. You may also keep up to date on the Eagles at www.goeags.com, where news releases, rosters, schedules and statistics for all 14 EWU varsity athletics teams may be found. Live stats for all volleyball matches are also available via www.goeags.com (click the link within the volleyball schedule page). Also follow the Eagles on Facebook and Twitter!