Eagles Host Sac State on Friday in a Battle for Postseason Positioning

On this year's Senior Night, Eastern looking for a repeat of the 2010 edition, in which the Eags soared past Sac in three easy sets


Upcoming Games/Coverage

EWU vs. Sacramento State
Friday, Nov. 18 - 7 p.m. PDT
Reese Court - Cheney Wash. 
Webcast: http://www.bigskytv.org
Live Stats: http://web.ewu.edu/groups/athletics/volleyball/vblivestats/xlive.htm

With a bid to the 2011 Big Sky Conference Tournament already solidified, the Eagles will now play for the third or fourth seed in the event when they host Sacramento State this Friday (Nov. 18) at Reese Court in the final match of the regular season.

The Eagles (13-13, 9-6) are currently a half game behind Sac State (16-13, 9-5) in the Big Sky standings. The Hornets have two matches on tap this weekend - first against EWU and then at Portland State. If Sac State loses both matches, Eastern will have the third seed. If the Hornets win both matches, they would earn the No. 2 seed, PSU would be the No. 3 and Eastern No. 4.

If the Hornets lose to EWU, but then beat Portland State, the tiebreaker for the third and fourth seeds would come down to the total number of sets won in the regular-season series. Since EWU lost in three sets at Sac State earlier this year, the Eagles would need to return the favor with a sweep on Friday in order to have a shot at the higher seed.

The same tiebreaker would exist between PSU and Sac if the Hornets were to beat Eastern on Friday and lose to Portland State on Saturday.

THe Eagles will be looking to snap a two-match losing skid when it plays Sac State on Senior Night at Reese Court. Prior to the first serve, EWU will honor its three senior members in Lindsey Petroni, Chenoa Rossi-Childress and Amy VanderWel.

After winning five-consecutive conference matches, EWU has now dropped its last two to the other two participants in this year's tournament - Northern Colorado and Portland State.

Contrary to Eastern, Sacramento State comes into the match on a slight winning streak, as it went 2-0 at home last weekend against Montana State and Montana.

In order for EWU to have success on Friday, it will have to find a way to break down the dominant defense of Sac State. The Hornets lead the Big Sky Conference in both blocks and digs, which has also earned them the best opponent hitting percentage in the league. Sac State averages 18.21 digs per set and 2.78 blocks, while holding teams to a .152 attack percentage. The Hornets also lead the league in service aces, averaging 1.45 per set.

In the first meeting of the year between the two teams, Sac State tallied 13 blocks in three sets - the most blocks in any three-set match across the Big Sky this season. Sac State also tallied 54 digs, compared to 46 for EWU. As a team, the Eagles hit a .106 clip in the 25-23, 25-19, 25-18 loss.

The Hornets lead the all-time series with EWU, 28-13. When playing in Cheney though, the series is even at 9-9, and that does account for three postseason matchups. In regular-season meetings at Reese Court, Eastern owns a 9-6 advantage.

Last season, Eastern's opponent on Senior Night was also Sac State, and the Eagles swept the Hornets in three convincing sets (25-17, 25-14, 25-17). As a team, Eastern hit a .214 clip, compared to a .048 efficiency for the Hornets. The Eagles also held a 66-54 advantage in digs and 8-4 edge in total team blocks.

Along with honoring three seniors on Friday, the Eastern Washington volleyball team will also announce the winner of its "Play to Stay" fundraiser in between the second and third sets of the match. "Play to Stay" is a raffle to benefit EWU volleyball. Throughout the 2011 season, the Eastern volleyball team has been selling raffle tickets for one grand prize that includes a one-night stay in the Hagadone Suite at the Coeur d'Alene Resort (to be used between Jan. 3 - Feb. 29, 2012), a $300 gift certificate to Spa Coeur d'Alene, $200 to Beverly's Restaurant, two 2012 EWU Football season tickets, an Adidas gift package, as well as an in-room gift basket.

All proceeds will be used to enhance the quality of the program and the Eagle Volleyball student-athlete experience.

Senior Notes

Lindsey Petroni | 5-7 | DS/L | Spokane, Wash.

  • School record holder for most 30-dig matches in a career. Petroni has six total in her tenure, three of which have come during the 2011 season.
  • Owns a career digs per set average of 3.47, which ranks fourth all-time in the EWU record book.
  • She has twice set a career-high of 33 digs. The first was on Sept. 3, 2009 against Idaho, and the second was this season against Montana on Sept. 24.
  • Named Big Sky Player of the Week on Oct. 5, 2009 for registering 71 digs in a four-match stretch from Sept. 30 - Sept. 9.
  • Two-time Big Sky All-Academic

Chenoa Rossi-Childress | 6-1 | MB | Las Vegas, Nev.

  • Named to the 2011 Wildcat Classic All-Tournament Team after recording 17 kills on a team-high .275 attack percentage, and picking up 11 blocks to lead Eastern in its three matches in Tucson, Ariz., on Sept. 2-3. She scored 22.5 points for EWU during the weekend.
  • In her two years with the Eagles, Rossi-Childress has tallied 133 kills on a .238 percentage and had 99 blocks.
  • She has had one double-double of 12 kills and 10 blocks against Northern Arizona on Nov. 13, 2010. This year, she has had two double-digit kill outings, and a season-high eight blocks against Santa Clara (Aug. 27).

Amy VanderWel | 5-7 | DS/L | Woodinville, Wash.

  • Two-time Big Sky All-Academic.
  • Started the first 13 matches of the 2011 season, and tallied double-digit digs in nine of them.
  • Had a career-high 29 pickups in an important five-set victory against Idaho State on Sept. 17. Posted another 20+ dig performance against UNLV on Sept. 10.
  • In her four-year career, VanderWel has tallied 267 total digs and 28 aces.

Eagle Volleyball News & Notes

Back in the Postseason Picture  - After a one-year hiatus in 2010, Eastern has returned to the postseason picture. The Eagles, along with Northern Colorado, Portland State and Sacramento State, have earned a bid to the 2011 Big Sky Conference Tournament, held Nov. 25-26 in Portland, Ore. Prior to 2010, Eastern had finished in the top three of the Big Sky regular-season standings and advanced to the semifinals of the BSC tourney for 14-consecutive years. Since 1986 - Eastern's first year in a conference tournament - the Eagles have earned a 17-15 record in the postseason matches.

Petroni Digs Her Way to School Record - In Eastern's match agaisnt Portland State on Nov. 12, senior libero Lindsey Petroni (Spokane, Wash.) tallied 30 digs.  With those 30 pickups, Petroni set the EWU school record for the most 30-dig matches in a career, as she now has six in her tenure. Three of the six have come in the 2011 season. In both regular-season matches against Montana, Petroni tallied 30 or more digs. In the meeting in Cheney on Oct. 28, she had exactly 30, while on the road in Missoula, she had 33 digs, which tied her career-high mark. She also had 33 against Idaho on Sept. 3, 2009. In league-only statistics, Petroni is currently fourth in the Big Sky, averaging 5.00 digs per set.

Streaking Through the Season - The 2011 season has been a "streaky" one for the Eastern Washington University volleyball team. The Eagles traded wins and losses through the first six matches of the year, but since then, the team has witnessed a very interesting pattern of streaks. From Sept. 3-10, Eastern lost three matches in a row to non-conference opponents...then the Eags won their next five-consecutive outings, including four-straight to open the Big Sky season....EWU followed that streak with five-straight losses, and then turned it around again with five-consecutive wins. That winning-streak was snapped however, when Eastern lost in three sets at Northern Colorado (Nov. 5). The Eagles made it two in a row with a loss last weekend to Portland State on Nov. 12.

Niemeier Doubles-Up - Sophomore setter Lindsay Niemeier (Spokane, Wash.) has registered a conference-leading 16 double-doubles this season. At one point in the year, Niemeier had registered an assist/dig double-double in seven-consecutive matches. She tallied a season-high 42 assists against Southern Utah on Sept. 10, and tallied a season and career-high 20 digs against Idaho on Oct. 5.

Superior Serving - In the 2010 campaign, Eastern Washington ranked eighth in the conference in service aces. With a 0.96 aces per set average last season, the Eags were one of only two teams in the Big Sky to tally less than one ace per set. This year, however, Eastern has made serving a priority, and it has definitely paid off. The Eagles are currently third in the league with a 1.17 aces per set average. In addition, Eastern had the very best single-match serving performance of the year among Big Sky teams when it tallied 11 aces against Montana State on Sept. 24. Individually, sophomore setter Lindsay Niemeier (Spokane, Wash.) leads the conference in service aces, averaging 0.33 per set. That average also ranks among the top 130 in the nation. She is also tied for the top mark for aces in a single match with her five against Northern Colorado on Sept. 30. As a team, the Eagles have had five or more aces in 10 matches this year, which is two more than they had in the entire 2010 campaign.

Home Court Advantage - The Eastern Washington University volleyball team has placed in the top 40 nationally in average home attendance in 11 of the past 14 years. The high-water mark of 1,641 fans per contest, which ranked 12th nationally, came in 2003. The squad has earned a 119-23 home record during that time span, for an impressive winning percentage of 83.8 when playing at Reese Court.

Eagles Dangerous in the Marathon Match - Although five-setters are not the ideal way to win a match, it seems to work for the 2011 Eagles. Eastern has played in 10 five-set matches already this season, and has prevailed in eight of the 10, which includes five in conference. In its most recent five-set victory at Northern Arizona (Nov. 3), the Eagles set a new school record for five-set wins in a season with eight. The previous record was seven in the 1989 and 2007 seasons. Eastern also handed Northern Arizona its first five-set loss of the year, as the Lumberjacks were 6-0 in marathon matches coming into Thursday's contest.

Kellerman's Career Weekend Leads to Second POW Honor of Season - For the second time this year, outside hitter Cora Kellerman was tabbed as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week for matches played Oct. 24-30. The junior from La Conner, Wash., led Eastern in two wins against Montana and Montana State. In addition to helping EWU's quest for Big Sky tournament bid, the victories also kept alive two long-standing streaks, as EWU earned its 16th-straight win against the Grizzlies at Reese Court and the 11th-consecutive win at home versus MSU. Kellerman averaged 4.89 kills per set on a stellar .384 attack percentage, and had 28 digs (3.11/set) and four blocks. She scored 46 points for her team in the two matches combined, which was 18 more than the next closest person. In Eastern's thrilling five-set victory against Montana (Oct. 28), Kellerman posted a career-high 25 kills, and had only four errors on 63 total swings. She had five kills alone in the decisive fifth set, while hitting a .417 clip. She also had 11 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. Kellerman's 25 kills in that match is the third-best offensive performance turned in by any player in the Big Sky this season. The win against the Grizzlies also gave Eastern its first regular-season series sweep of UM since 2007. The following night against Montana State, Kellerman picked up right where she left off on Friday, tallying 19 kills, 17 digs and four blocks. She had just two errors on 36 total attempts for a career-best .472 attack percentage.

Block Party - In 17 of 26 matches this season, Eastern has either out-blocked or had the exact same blocks as its opponent. The Eagles have tallied double-digit blocks in 12 contests, including a season-high 17 against Northern Arizona (Nov. 3), which was far and away the best team blocking performance of any Big Sky squad this season. EWU currently ranks in the top 80 nationally in blocking.

Three-Deep - After being sidelined with a knee injury for the first three weeks of the Big Sky season, senior middle blocker Chenoa Rossi-Childress is back on the court, giving Eastern three dangerous threats in the middle. Besides its senior leader, the Eagles have a pair of talented freshmen in Amanda Brown and Talia Fermantez, who both gained invaluable experience while Rossi-Childress was on the bench. Brown averages 1.39 kills per set and 0.98 blocks, while Fermantez boasts a 1.62 kills per set average to go along with 0.83 blocks. And in the 54 sets she has played this season, Rossi-Childress has averaged 1.56 kills and 1.11 blocks.

Freshmen Phenoms - This season, Eastern has relied heavily on three talented freshmen. EWU has a pair of freshmen middle blockers who have made a major impact in their first year in red and white. Amanda Brown (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) has played in all 25 matches of the 2011 season, which includes 11 starts. She is averaging 1.39 kills and a team-leading 0.98 blocks per set. She has posted double-digit kills in four matches, including a career-high 12 at Montana on Sept. 24. Her counterpart on the court, freshman Talia Fermantez (Honolulu, Hawaii), contributes 1.62 kills per set on a .263 attack percentage, and 0.83 blocks. Fermantez has been especially strong in conference play, averaging 1.81 kills and 0.90 blocks per set. She had a career night against Montana State (Oct. 29), as she posted 13 kills on a .462 percentage and nine blocks. Besides its two freshmen middles, the Eagles have also started a rookie on the outside in 25 of the 26 matches this season. Kelsey Julian (Kennewick, Wash.) averages 0.97 kills per set and 0.62 blocks. She has twice had a career-high seven kills against UNLV (Sept. 10) and Montana (Oct. 28), and has twice posted a career-high of eight blocks against Washington State (Aug. 27) at Northern Arizona (Nov. 3).

Nine In a Row for No. 7 - Junior Shelby Puckett (Latah, Wash), who wears #7 for the Eagles, had a nine-consecutive double-digit kill matches from Sept. 9 - Oct. 1. She has tallied double-digit kills in 15 of 23 matches this season, including a season and career-high 22 against Boise State on Aug. 31. On the year, Puckett's 2.98 kills per set average ranks seventh in the conference. She also averages 0.61 blocks and 0.27 aces per set, for a points per set average of 3.60 - which is fifth in the conference and among the top 250 for all Division I players across the nation.

Career-Night for Wright - Sophomore Ashley Wright (Leavenworth, Wash.) has had two career outings in the 2011 campaign. Against Montana State on Sept. 23, she posted a then-career-high 14 kills on .480 hitting, and had a career-high four service aces to lead Eastern to a thrilling five-set victory over the Bobcats. Wright also had six digs and one block in the match. Against Northern Arizona on Nov. 3, Wright topped her career-high kills mark with 16 against the Lumberjacks. She hit a .300 clip in that match and had four digs and three blocks to help EWU to a crucial 3-2 win on the road.

Kellerman Lays Claim to Big Sky POW - After helping Eastern capture back-to-back victories at home against Weber State and Idaho State, outside hitter Cora Kellerman (La Conner, Wash.) was selected as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week. It was the first POW award of Kellerman's career and the first student-athlete from Eastern to be honored in the 2011-12 campaign. In the two matches played over the weekend, Kellerman averaged 3.75 kills per set on a stellar .310 attack percentage. She also averaged 2.00 digs per set and posted a flawless serve percentage with zero service errors on 32 total attempts. Kellerman scored a team-high 33 points for the Eagles in the two matches combined. In Eastern's thrilling five-set victory over Idaho State on Saturday (Sept. 17), Kellerman registered a game-high 18 kills. But even more impressive than the total number was her efficiency in the marathon match, as she had zero errors on 44 total attack attempts. In the 3-0 sweep of Weber State the night before, Kellerman had 12 kills, seven digs and one solo block.

Puckett Honored for Performance in Vegas - Junior Shelby Puckett (Latah, Wash.) became the third Eagle to be honored on an All-Tournament team this season, as she was selected to the UNLV Invitational All-Tourney team. Puckett averaged 3.29 kills and 1.57 digs per set, while also tallying 10 total blocks in Eastern's three matches in Las Vegas, Nev. She also had a team-high five service aces, including three pivotal ones in EWU's dramatic five-set victory over future Big Sky member Southern Utah. She had 17 kills, five digs and three blocks in that match as well. She averaged 4.00 points per set for EWU – the most of any player on the team.

Rossi-Childress Named to Wildcat Classic All-Tourney Team - Senior Chenoa Rossi-Childress (Las Vegas, Nev.) was one of six players named to the Wildcat Classic All-Tournament Team, held Sept. 2-3 in Tucson, Ariz. In the three matches played in Tucson, Ross-Childress tallied 17 kills on a team-high .275 attack percentage. She also led Eastern's blocking efforts with 11 total. She scored 22.5 points for EWU during the weekend.

Eagles Prevail in Early Home Opener - Not since the 2004 season had Eastern played a home match at Reese Court prior to the start of the Big Sky Conference season. This year, the Eagles had the privilege of hosting an early-season match in Cheney, and that little bit of home-court advantage certainly helped the Eags pull through in the clutch. In the 2011 home opener on Aug. 31, the Eagles outlasted Boise State in five exciting sets. The Eags recorded a then-season-high 12.5 total team blocks, to go along with another then-season-high 84 digs. Eastern was also sharp on the offensive side of the ball, as it recorded the second best attack percentage of the season at .292 (66-17-168). Junior Shelby Puckett posted a career-high 22 kills with only four errors in 45 attempts (.400), while Kellerman had 21 kills and a career-high 20 digs, which as the first time in her career the La Conner, Wash., native had 20 or more tallies in two different statistical categories.

Kellerman Earns Eastern's First All-Tourney Honor of 2011 - After leading EWU with 34 total kills and 31 digs in Eastern's opening weekend, junior captain Cora Kellerman (La Conner, Wash.) 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. She led the team to a spectacular five-set victory over rival Washington State with a then-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.

Smart Cookies - 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 team tied for the highest GPA of any squad, men's or women's, in the Big Sky. In both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, the Eagles had 11 members earn BSC All-Academic honors, which was the most for any volleyball squad in the conference both years. The volleyball team also has five members in the EWU honors program, which is the most athletes from any of Eastern's 14 varsity sports. Seven volleyball players boast a cumulative GPA above 3.50, including six of seven starters this season.

Wright Lays Claim to 2011 Emtman Award - Sophomore Ashley Wright (Leavenworth, Wash.) 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 and a team-first attitude during the spring season. The award is administered by EWU head strength and conditioning coach, Nate Brookreson. She is the third recipient of the Emtman Award, which was introduced in Miles Kydd's first season as head coach. Junior Shelby Puckett received the honor in 2010, while former Eagle Jacque Brown was the 2009 inaugural award winner.

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