Four starters and eight letter winners return as Wade Benson kicks off second tenure as head coach
The Eastern Washington women’s volleyball team has been picked sixth in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches Poll as announced by the league office Tuesday (Aug. 13).
The Eagles return four starters and eight letter winners from last year’s squad that finished ninth in the conference standings at 5-15. All five of Eastern’s wins came at the tail end of the season as EWU finished the year winning five of its final nine matches.
Back to patrol the sidelines for the Eagles is Wade Benson, who was announced as the program’s head coach back in December. In Benson’s previous tenure from 2000-06, Eastern won three Big Sky titles and became the only team in league history to advance past the first round of the NCAA Championship, beating Oregon State in the tournament’s opening round in 2001. EWU won at least 20 games in his final six seasons in Cheney and played for the Big Sky Tournament title each year.
Sophomore Allie Schumacher and junior Talia Fermantez return to lead the Eagles’ offensive attack after averaging 2.63 and 2.32 kills per set last season, respectively. Schumacher exploded for a school-record 35 kills in Eastern’s victory over Northern Arizona (Nov. 1) while Fermantez led Eastern with 88 total blocks. Senior setter Lindsay Niemeier is back after an injury sidelined her for the entire year in 2012. She had a double-double with 30 assists and 10 digs before going down in EWU’s first game last season and has racked up 1,180 career assists.
North Dakota is ranked fourth followed by Northern Arizona, who received two first-place votes. Sacramento State, Montana State, Southern Utah, Weber State and Montana round out the poll.
Eastern’s 2013 campaign begins against NCAA Championship runner-up Oregon on Friday, Aug. 30, in Eugene, Ore.
Big Sky Preseason Coaches Poll
|Team||Points (First-Place Votes)|
|1.||Portland State||95 (7)|
|2.||Idaho State||83 (2)|
|5.||Northern Arizona||59 (2)|