Eastern looks to even conference record when it returns to Reese to face Montana State on Friday for "Dig Deep For Pink" Night and Montana on Saturday
After enduring two tough losses in the Treasure State during the very first weekend of the Big Sky season, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will finally have its shot at payback. The Eagles welcome Montana State and Montana to Cheney on Friday (Oct. 29) and Saturday (Oct. 30), respectively. Both matches are scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
Friday's match against the Bobcats will also be "Dig Deep For Pink" night at Reese Court. All fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. All fans who are wearing pink will be granted FREE admission to the event. The EWU Health and Wellness Center will be on hand to pass out information on Breast Cancer Awareness and accept donations from fans who would like to contribute. All proceeds will go to Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation.
The Eagles are coming off a bitter-sweet weekend that saw the team earn its first conference road win of the season against Idaho State, but not before it dropped a five-set heartbreaker to Weber State in Ogden, Utah. In the game against the Bengals, EWU hit at a .239 clip and recorded a season-high 16.5 team blocks. Four players had double-digit kills, while ISU's .107 overall attack percentage in the match was the third-worst by all of EWU's 2010 opponents.
Redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright earned her first-career double-double, as she had 10 kills and 11 digs at Idaho State. Lindsay Niemeier also registered a double-double with 32 assists and 11 digs, while Chenoa Coviare was just one block shy, as she chipped in a team-leading 15 kills and nine blocks.
The Eagles, who are currently sixth in the BSC, will open this weekend's competition against the Bobcats of Montana State. Despite an overwhelming statistical advantage by the Eagles, MSU upended Eastern 3-1 in their first meeting of the year. EWU had more kills, assists, aces and digs than the Bobcats, but its 30 offensive errors and 12 misses from behind the service line enabled Montana State to nab a four-set victory.
The Bobcats are currently one spot behind Eastern in the league standings with a 3-6 record. In addition to its victory over the Eagles, Montana State has also topped Weber State and Sacramento State this season, both of which were five-set ordeals. Besides those tight three battles, the Bobcats have won only two other sets total in the 2010 Big Sky season, as four of their six losses have been sweeps.
The all-time series between the Eagles and Bobcats stands at 49-13, in favor of EWU. Prior to their loss earlier this season, the Eagles had not dropped a match to MSU since Nov. 13, 2004.
On Saturday, Eastern will look for revenge against the Montana Grizzlies, who took the first match of the regular-season series in a thrilling five-set battle in Missoula. The Eagles charged back after trailing two sets to none to force a decisive fifth set. With the score knotted at 13, Montana came up with a huge block, followed by an EWU error to take the match. Similar to the storyline with the Bobcats, EWU led the Griz in almost every statistical category, but beat themselves with a surfeit of unforced errors. The Eagles recorded their season-high in kills (72) and digs (97), but committed 33 offensive miscues and six service errors.
The Grizzlies are currently the No. 3 team in the BSC with a 6-3 record. Two of their three losses have come on the road to Idaho State and Northern Colorado, while the third came at the hands of Portland State in Missoula. Saturday's match will be the 80th meeting between the two schools, with Montana holding a slight 47-32 edge in the all-time series. In the previous two seasons, EWU and UM split the regular-season series, with each team winning on its home court. If the pattern continues, Eastern is due for a victory against the Grizzlies on Saturday night.
Saturday's match will also be a showdown of league's leading middle blockers. EWU senior Chenoa Coviare has the best blocking average of the Big Sky season at 1.52, while UM's Jamie Thibeault is second at 1.40 blocks per set. Although proven to be one of the strongest players at the net, Thibeault should have a difficult time defending Coviare, as the Medford, Ore., native also owns the third-best attack percentage in conference games at .350 (117-28-254).
Eagle News & Notes
Coviare Climbs Blocking Chart – 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, as she now has 90 blocks on the season, and 457 total in her career. Coviare has recorded six or more blocks in seven of the team's last nine 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 50 blockers in the country with her 1.20 blocks per set average on the season.
Key in Conference: Hit .200 – For the EWU volleyball team, there seems to be one glaring difference this season between Big Sky matches won and Big Sky matches lost. When the team hits above .200, they win. When they hit below, they lose. In Eastern's first two victories of the season, the team averaged a .252 attack percentage. They recorded 53 kills and only 18 errors against Idaho State, and then followed that performance with 59 kills and 22 errors in their five-set victory over Weber State. Against Northern Arizona, the Eagles hit .228, which included 45 kills and only 16 errors on 127 total attempts. In its most recent outing at Idaho State, the Eagles hit at a .239 clip, with 59 total kills and only 22 errors. In the six games they've lost, the team has averaged a .151 efficiency.
Sizzling Statistics – Despite its less than favorable record in the BSC (4-6), the Eagles are statistically among the top five teams in the league in sixth different categories. The team ranks second overall in blocks (2.70/set), third in opponent hitting percentage (.164) and fifth in digs (15.31/set), assists (11.57/set), kills (12.33) and hitting percentage (.185). Individually, Chenoa Coviare leads the league in blocks (1.52/set), is third in hitting percentage (.350), eighth in points (3.63/set) and tenth in kills (2.79/set). Senior Alysha Cook is tenth in the blocking category with 0.89 per set, while Lindsey Petroni is fifth in digs with 4.10 per set. Redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier ranks sixth among setters with 7.74 assists per set, while sophomore Laney Brown is eighth at 5.74 per set. Currently, the Eagles are sixth in the BSC standings with a 4-6 record.
Wright Impresses in Back Row Debut - Redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright has played in 19 of Eastern's 20 matches this season, but up until last weekend, Wright only played in the front row. In EWU's matches at Weber State and Idaho State, Wright played the full rotation for the Eagles, and did quite well from her new position in the back row. She picked up 10 digs against the Wildcats and tallied a career-high 11 versus ISU. She also had 10 kills in that contest for the first double-double of her career. Wright is a native of Leavenworth, Wash.
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. Sophomore Shelby Puckett and senior captain Jacque Brown lead the way with four, while redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier has three. Senior Chenoa Coviare and sophomore setter Laney Brown have two apiece. Redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright is the most recent addition to the list, as she tallied 10 kills and 11 digs on Oct. 23 at Idaho State. (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.
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 Montana State and Montana. 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).