Eastern to face the undefeated Northern Colorado Bears in a rematch of 2009 BSC tournament semifinals
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team will enjoy home court advantage this weekend, as it takes on Northern Arizona on Friday (Oct. 15) at 7 p.m. and Northern Colorado on Saturday (Oct. 16), also at 7 p.m. The Eagles, who have struggled as of late due to an unfortunate bout of illness and injury, will look to even its mark in the Big Sky Conference with the home matches at Reese Court.
The Eagles are coming off a difficult road trip that saw the team fall in three quick sets to Portland State. Eastern struggled to put the ball away against the Vikings, as it recorded only 26 kills with 15 errors on 88 total attempts. Conversely, Portland State had 47 kills on a .396 hitting efficiency. EWU hopes to work out its missteps on offense when it takes on the Lumberjacks in the first of two conference meetings this weekend.
Northern Arizona will come to Cheney with an even 3-3 mark in the Big Sky. In its most recent outing, NAU swept Montana State 3-0 in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Eagles and Lumberjacks have met 53 times in history, with Eastern holding a 32-21 advantage in the all-time series. The Eagles have won seven of the last 10 meetings, including the last three played on Reese Court. Eastern and NAU split the regular-season series in 2008 and 2009, with each team winning on its home court. In the most recent matchup on Nov. 14, 2009, EWU handled NAU with ease, as it won in three swift sets (25-18, 25-16, 25-20).
Following the contest with NAU, Eastern will have its work cut out as it faces the No.1 team in the league in Northern Colorado. The Bears, who are the defending Big Sky tournament champions, currently own an undefeated 6-0 record in the BSC. Last weekend, the Bears beat both conference schools from Montana, while their sophomore outside hitter Kelley Arnold was tabbed as the Big Sky Player of the Week for her performances in those matches.
Since the 2006 season, when the Bears became an official member of the Big Sky Conference, Eastern has tallied a 6-3 overall record against the team from the Centennial State. Last season, the Eagles swept the regular-season series with UNC, but then suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Bears in the semifinals of the BSC tournament. Northern Colorado took the first two sets from the Eagles in that match, but EWU battled back to win sets three and four. In the dramatic rubber game, Eastern had tied the score at 12-12, but UNC rattled off three-consecutive kills to win the match and advance to the championship game. The Bears then upset Portland State in the final round to earn a bid to the 2009 NCAA Division I tournament.
In the last decade, the Eagles have won 85 percent of the games played at Reese Court, which includes its first and only two BSC wins of the 2010 season. In 2008, the Eagles went undefeated on its home court, while last season, the Eagles dropped only two matches on, one of which was that fateful game against the Bears in the BSC tournament.
Eagle News & Notes
Eagles Excel in Conference Play – Since starting Big Sky action on Sept. 17, the Eagles have turned in some of their best volleyball all season. After the first month of conference play, Eastern ranks among the top five in the league in five different categories. The Eagles are fourth overall in blocks (2.38/set) and hitting percentage (.183) and fifth in assists (11.48/set), kills(12.24) and digs (15.20/set). Individually, Chenoa Coviare is fourth in blocks with 1.40 per set and has the fourth-best hitting percentage in the confernce at .411 (65-12-129). Senior Alysha Cook is seventh in the blocking category with 1.12 per set and 10th overall in kills, as she has averaged 2.71/set. Lindsey Petroni is second in digs at 4.56 per set., while Lindsay Niemeier ranks fifth among setters with an 8.27 assists per set average. Currently, the Eagles are seventh in the BSC with a 2-4 record.
Eagles Turn in Top Performances in BSC – Despite a less than favorable overall record to date (3-13), 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) is tied for the top mark in the BSC. Setters Lindsay Niemeier and Laney Brown rank second 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 95 kills thus far in the season, and leads the team in service aces with 10. She has scored 125 total points for the Eagles, which is the third most for any player on the roster. 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. She is a great player. Determined and talented."
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, five different Eagles have recorded double-doubles, while four of those players have registered two or more. Sophomore Shelby Puckett leads the team with four in the 2010 campaign. She tallied a season-high 21 kills and 19 digs against Seattle (Aug. 28), and then recorded a double-double in back-to-back outings on Sept. 10, as she had 13 kills and 11 digs versus Cal Poly and 12 kills and 13 digs at Idaho. In Eastern's Big Sky opener versus Montana (Sept. 17), Puckett recorded 11 kills and 18 digs. Jacque Brown tallied back-to-back double-doubles in the Treasure State, as she had 10 kills and 13 digs versus Montana (Sept. 17) and 10 kills and 12 digs against Montana State (Sept. 19). She nabbed her third double-double of the season in Eastern's five-set victory over Weber State (Sept. 25), as she had 12 kills and a season-high 16 digs. Senior Chenoa Coviare and redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier has accomplished the feat twice this year. Coviare tallied 11 kills and 10 blocks in Eastern's home opener versus Idaho State (Sept. 24) and had 15 kills and a season-high 11 blocks in EWU's four-set battle with Sacramento State (Oct1. 1). Niemeier picked up 17 assists and 13 digs versus Mercer (Aug. 27) and 22 assists and 10 digs versus Cal Poly (Sept. 10). Laney Brown has also earned one double-double this season when she recorded 52 assists and 11 digs in the five-set thriller at Seattle (Aug. 28) and Coviare
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.
Eastern Picked Fourth in BSC Preseason Poll - For the third-straight year, the Eastern Washington volleyball squad was ranked among the top four teams in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches' Poll. Eastern was picked fourth this season, behind co-favorites Portland State and Montana, and 2009 BSC Tournament Champion Northern Colorado, who came in third in the voting. EWU has made 14 consecutive appearances in the BSC tournament, including two title runs in 1989 and 2001. Last year, the team tied for second overall in the regular season with a record of 12-4.
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.
Live Coverage of 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 matches versus Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado. 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).