Eagles Outlast Alumni, 3-2

Eastern alum put up a good fight, but 2011 Eagles prevail in season-opening scrimmage

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team was put to the test on Saturday (Aug. 20) in the annual Alumni Scrimmage at Reese Court, but after five competitive sets, the 2011 Eagles took home the glory.

Eastern had three set points in the opening frame, but back-to-back kills and a block by the alumni enabled them to snatch the set 26-24. Eastern rebounded with a 25-20 victory in the second and 25-21 win in the third, but the alumni answered with a very narrow 28-26 win in the fourth. In the fifth set, the Eagles found themselves in a hole early, but a service ace by senior libero Lindsay Petroni sparked a 4-0 run or EWU. Eastern carried the momentum the rest of the way, winning the set 15-13.

Leading the Eagles was junior outside hitter Shelby Puckett, who tallied a game-high 21 kills. The Latah, Wash., was also sharp on the defensive end with 17 digs and six blocks. Making her much anticipated return after redshirting the 2010 season, junior Cora Kellerman also registered a double-double of 11 kills and 10 digs.

Sophomore Ashley Wright (Leavenworth, Wash.) added nine kills and six digs for the Eagles.

Fans got their first look at freshman middle blocker Amanda Brown (Hacienda Heights, Calif. ), who looked solid with eight kills and four blocks. Freshman Kelsey Julian (Kennewick, Wash.) also made her debut, and finished the game with five kills, two blocks, three digs and two service aces.

Sophomore Lindsay Niemeier and junior Laney Brown split the setting duties on Saturday as part of Eastern's 6-2 offense. Niemeier finished with 25 assists, while Brown earned a double-double of 21 assists and 12 digs.

The alumni team featured nine former Eagle volleyball players and one special "ringer" in the form of EWU volunteer assistant coach T. Janquish. The six-foot-five Janquish, who graduated from Eastern in 2008, helped the short-handed alumni with 18 kills, nine blocks and 11 digs.

2006 graduate Kayla Mainer also had a double-double for the alum, as she finished with 10 kills and 12 digs. Although not playing her normal position, 2008 Big Sky MVP Hayley Hills still managed to make quite an impact as a middle blocker, finishing with nine kills, eight blocks and 13 digs. Six of Hills' eight blocks were solo.

DeAnna Rinta (formerly Albers) set for the alumni team, finishing with 31 assists and a game-high 20 digs. Angela Newcomb (formerly Grant) and Angela Spoja (formerly Frederick) also added 15 digs apiece for the alumni.

The Eagles will officially kick off the season next weekend at the Seattle University tournament in Seattle, Wash. Eastern plays host-school Seattle on Friday, Aug. 26, followed by back-to-back matches against Washington State and Santa Clara on Saturday, Aug. 27.

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