Eastern to face capable Cal Poly and familiar foes in Washington State and Idaho
In its final tune-up before the 2010 Big Sky Conference season commences, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will travel to Pullman, Wash., and Moscow, Idaho to take on Washington State, Cal Poly and Idaho. The Eagles will play WSU on Thursday (Sept. 9) at 7 p.m., and Cal Poly on Friday (Sept. 9) at 1 p.m. as part of the Nike Cougar Challenge Tournament. Eastern will then make the eight-mile trip across the border to face the Vandals on Friday (Sept. 9) at 7 p.m.
“We are excited for this weekend and the opportunities presented by competing against three top programs,” said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. “Our schedule has been tough to date, and this weekend will be no different. Our task remains the same though; play better this time than last time. Keep grinding and keep progressing.”
Since joining the Division I ranks in 1983-84, Eastern has faced the Cougars nearly 30 times, but only three times in the last decade. WSU defeated Eastern 3-0 in Pullman last year, but the Eagles had won the previous two contests during the 2005 and 2008 seasons.
Contrary to the series with the Cougars, Friday’s match between Eastern and Cal Poly will be just the third meeting in history for the two programs. The Eagles and Mustangs are tied 1-1 in the all-time series after EWU swept Cal Poly during the 1999 season and then fell to the Mustangs 3-1 in San Luis Obispo in 2003. Cal Poly is off to a strong start in 2010, as the team received 31 votes in the latest AVCA Top 25 poll. The Mustangs earned the national recognition after upsetting then-No.18 Arizona in their first game of the season on Aug. 27.
Following tournament play in Pullman, the Eagles will travel to Moscow to face Idaho for seventh-consecutive season. Eastern has won five of the last seven meetings with the Vandals, including a 3-0 victory last year on Reese Court.
LAST TIME OUT... The Eagles are coming off a challenging weekend in Malibu, Calif., in which the squad faced three teams who received votes in the latest AVCA Top 25 poll. Eastern was swept by Missouri (25-16, 25-22, 25-17), Pepperdine (25-9, 25-13, 17-25) and Rice (25-20, 25-14, 25-22) at the Pepperdine Asics Classic. Senior Allison Reinstein, who currently leads the team in attack percentage (.232) and service aces (7), was named to the all-tournament team for her efforts in Malibu. She recorded a team-leading five blocks and three services aces, while also tallying 12 kills.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW... Sophomore Shelby Puckett has been the main offensive threat for the Eagles thus far in the season, as she averages a team-leading 2.90 kills per set. She has tallied 58 total kills over six matches, including a career-high 21 against Seattle (Aug. 28). Puckett has also contributed 45 total digs (2.25 dps), which ranks third on the team. Sophomore Laney Brown and redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier have split time at the setter position, with Brown averaging 5.50 assists per set and Niemeier at 5.07. Middle blockers Chenoa Coviare and Allison Reinstein are taking care of business at the net, as the those two players alone have contributed to 27 of Eastern’s 30 blocks this season. In the backcourt, junior libero Lindsey Petroni leads the squad with 59 total digs and 3.11 digs per set. Senior Jacque Brown has also been busy on the defensive end, as she has picked up 54 total digs, while averaging 2.70 digs per set.
Scouting the Opposition
• Third-year head coach Andrew Palileo returns two starters and five other letterwinners from his 2009 squad that earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
• The Cougars are 3-3 on the season, which includes a 3-1 victory over Big Sky Conference team Weber State. The Cougs also defeated UC-Irvine (3-0) and San Francisco (3-1), while suffering losses to Idaho (0-3), Tulsa (0-3) and Santa Barbara (1-3).
• WSU is led this year by junior outside hitter Meagan Ganzer, who averages 5.57 kills per set. She currently holds a .295 attack percentage with 117 kills and only 37 errors on 271 attempts.
• On defense, the Cougs rely on sophomore libero Oceana Bush, who was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team in 2009. She picks up 4.67 digs per set, and has recorded six service aces this season. The Cougs rank fourth in the Pac-10 in digs per set (13.38).
• The Mustangs return almost every starter from its 2009 squad that recorded a 9-20 overall record and finished seventh in the Big West Conference.
• The Mustangs have two players who hit above .300 percent. Sophomore middle blocker Jennifer Keddy has a .393 (72-14-140) attack percentage, while her counterpart Dominique Olowalfe currently hits a .390 (48-9-100).
• Freshman outside hitter Kristina Graven is also strong up front, as she leads the team in total kills with 80.
• Cal Poly averages 2.37 blocks per set, which ranks second in the Big West Conference. As a team, The Mustangs have tallied 99 total blocks this year. Keddy, who stands at six feet, four inches, accounts for 30 of those blocks (1.15 bps).
• Heading into the weekend, Idaho holds a 2-3 overall record, but both of those wins were against schools Eastern will also face during the 2010 campaign. The Vandals defeated Big Sky Conference foe Weber State (3-1) and Washington State (3-0).
• The Vandals are led by redshirt-freshman Allison Walker, who averages 5.30 kills per set and holds a .280 attack percentage (80-26-193). Her kps average is second in the WAC.
• Senior middle blocker Kelsey Taylor, who was a preseason all-conference selection, averages 1.25 blocks per set. Idaho, as a team, averages 2.60 bps, which ranks third in the WAC.
• In addition to its notable blocking, Idaho is also the top digging team in the WAC, averaging 18 digs per set. They are led by junior Cassie Hamilton and sophomore setter Jennifer Feicht, who average 4.29 and 2.71 dps, respectively.
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. 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 .232 is the best on the squad, while her seven aces in 2010 not only lead the team, but is the top mark in the conference for all seniors.
Three Eags Earn Double-Doubles - So far this season, three different Eagle volleyball players have recorded double-doubles. Redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier was the first to accomplish the feat when she tallied 17 assists and 13 digs against Mercer on Aug. 27. Sophomores Laney Brown and Shelby Puckett notched their double-double the following day (Aug. 28) against Seattle. Brown had a career-high 52 assists and 11 digs in the contest, while Puckett recorded a career-high 21 kills and 19 digs. Puckett also had four assists in that match for her third career high mark of the day.
Freshmen Force - Eastern’s 2010 lineup features five talented athletes who had never played in a collegiate volleyball match before this season. Redshirt-freshmen Lindsay Niemeier and Ashley Wright, and true freshmen Tyler Calles, Celeste Crosby and Esther Warren have all seen action in at least three matches this year. Niemeier has been the starting setter for Eastern in four of their six matches, tallying 76 total assists and 29 digs. Wright and Warren, who hit on the left side, have combined for 36 kills and 12 blocks, while Calles and Crosby provide depth in the back court. Calles has contributed six digs so far this season, and Crosby has chipped in two.
Coviare Chases Record - So far in her career, Chenoa Coviare has tallied 384 total blocks, which ranks fifth on EWU’s all-time records list. Last season alone, she recorded a team-leading 144 blocks, which was the fourth-best single-season performance in program history. If Chenoa can continue on that track during her senior year, she will become the all-time leading blocker in Eastern history. With 17 blocks already recorded this season, she needs only 123 more to nab the record outright!
Eagles Endure Stringent Schedule - Of the nine opponents appearing on Eastern’s pre-Big Sky schedule, five of them are either on or receiving votes in the 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). Last weekend at the Pepperdine Asics Classic, all three of Eastern’s opponents were receiving votes in the latest poll. The competition does not ease up this weekend, as the team will face Washington State, who earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament last season and Cal Poly, who received 31 votes in this week’s poll. The Mustangs earned the national recognition after upsetting then-No.18 Arizona (3-1) in their first game of the season on Aug. 27.
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.