Eastern hopes competitive spirit from Washington State win will carry into a busy week of four matches in four days
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For the first time since 2004, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will have a home match at Reese Court prior to the start of Big Sky Conference play. The Eagles host Boise State this Wednesday (Aug. 31) at 6 p.m. for the 2011 home opener at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
"We relish any opportunity to play at home," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "We feel playing at home this early in the season is an advantage for us to get familiar with the home court and get the fans excited for Eagle Volleyball in 2011."
Eastern will enter the match with a 1-2 record on the season. The Eagles celebrated an exciting five-set victory over rival Washington State at the Seattle University Fall Volley. Junior captain Cora Kellerman led the Eagles in the win with a career-high 20 kills and 17 digs. Eastern also suffered two losses at the tournament to Santa Clara and host Seattle, both of which were in straight sets.
Boise State comes to Cheney with a 2-1 record in 2011. The Broncos opened their season with a five-set loss to Pacific, but then rebounded with back-to-back victories against Southern Utah and Drake. Boise State returned five starters and four other letterwinners from its 2010 squad that went 21-12 overall. The team also welcomed five newcomers this season.
"What we know about Boise State is they are 2-1 on the season after beating two quality opponents," said Kydd. "Boise State has definitely been getting better over the last couple years. I think their program had a couple of down years, but have been steadily improving, so we anticipate a tough challenge on Wednesday. But if we can play with the same competitive spirit we had against Washington State, I think we will be fine."
As a former member of the Big Sky Conference, Boise State and Eastern met many times in history. The Broncos hold a slight 28-24 edge in the all-time series, but the last time the two teams met was in 2007 in Cheney and the Eagles swept BSU, 3-0.
After the home opener Wednesday, Eastern will hit the road for the Wildcat Classic in Tuscon, Ariz. Eastern will open the tournament with a match against Cal State Fullerton, which also went 1-2 during its first weekend of action. The Titans dropped two matches to Loyola Marymount and No. 12 UCLA, but finished the weekend with a 3-0 sweep of Quinnipiac.
Friday's meeting between EWU and CSF will be the sixth in history, but the first in more than a decade, as the last time the two teams met was in 1995 when the Titans beat Eastern 3-0 in Fresno, Calif.
Eastern's second contest of the Wildcat Classic will be a first-ever meeting with the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Presbyterian is a small NCAA Division I school out of the Big South Conference. The Blue Hose garnered a 13-18 overall record in 2010, and lost their first outing of this season in a home match versus William and Mary.
On Saturday (Sept. 3), Eastern will face arguably its toughest opponent to date in Arizona. Despite returning only two starters from a year ago, the Wildcats received 15 votes in the latest AVCA Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, released Monday (Aug. 28). Arizona opened its 2011 campaign with back-to-back wins against Wichita State and San Francisco. The Wildcats then fell to No. 10 Hawaii in the final match of the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Manoa, Hawaii.
This will be Eastern's third trip to Tucson in the last five years for an early-season tournament. The Eagles also competed in the Wildcat Classic in 2007 and 2009. In the 2009 meeting, EWU gave UofA a run for its money, as it took one set off the Pac-12 team with a dominating 25-13 performance in the third set. The Wildcats ended up winning the match in four, but it was no certainly no walk in the park. The scores for the match were 25-22, 25-20, 13-25 and 25-18.
The all-time series between Eastern and Arizona stands at 6-0, in favor of the Wildcats.
News & Notes
Kellerman Named All-Tournament Team - After leading EWU with 34 total kills and 31 digs over the weekend, junior captain Cora Kellerman was named to the 2011 Seattle University Fall Volley All-Tournament Team. Kellerman averaged 3.09 kills per set in the three matches played in Seattle, Wash. She led the team to a spectacular five-set victory over rival Washington State with a career-high 20 kills and 17 digs. Six of her 20 kills came in the decisive fifth set. Kellerman also recorded a .957 serve percentage, as she served 47 times in the tournament with only two errors.
Rossi-Childress Leading Big Sky Blockers - Senior Chenoa Rossi-Childress tallied 19 total blocks in Eastern's opening weekend of the 2011 season, which makes her the top blocker in the Big Sky Conference with a 1.73 blocks per set average. She had four blocks against Seattle U, seven against Washington State and contributed to eight of Eastern's 11 total team blocks against Santa Clara. Rossi-Chidlress' career game high for blocks is 10, which she set last season at Northern Arizona.
Eagles Honored for Academic Success - For the second year in a row, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team earned the AVCA Team Academic Award for its superior work in the classroom. To be eligible for the award, teams must maintain at least a 3.00 grade point average during the academic year. With a team GPA of 3.31, the Eagles were one of 92 Division I programs honored for the 2010-11 year. Eastern was also recognized by the Big Sky Conference, as the Eagles tied for the highest of any squad, men's or women's, in the Big Sky. In both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, the volleyball team had 11 members earn BSC All-Academic honors, which was the most for any volleyball squad in the conference both years.
Wright Lays Claim to 2011 Emtman Award - Sophomore Ashley Wright was selected as the 2011 recipient of the Emtman award - an honor bestowed to one volleyball student-athlete who exhibits a strong work ethic, perseverance, character and a team-first attitude during the spring season. The award is administered by EWU head strength and conditioning coach, Nate Brookreson. Wright, a 2009 graduate of Cascade High School in Leavenworth, Wash., played in 26 of Eastern's 27 matches during the 2010 campaign, including 15 starts as a redshirt-freshman. She averaged 1.37 kills and 0.52 blocks per set. She also registered three double-doubles throughout the year, all of which came in Big Sky Conference play. At the end of the volleyball season, Wright was selected as the Most Improved Player by her teammates. She is the third recipient of the Emtman Award, which was introduced in Miles Kydd's first season as head coach.