Cheney, Wash. – Heather Meeuwsen and Jennifer Nakata have joined the Eastern Washington women's volleyball team in time for offseason training, head coach Wade Benson announced Thursday, Jan. 9.
Meeuwsen comes to Cheney after one season at NAIA power Texas Brownsville following a two-year career at the College of Southern Idaho. Nakata joins the Eagles after two seasons at NCAA Division II program Wayne State College.
"We're very excited to bring Heather and Jennifer on board," Benson said. "They bring a lot to the table, and will help our back row tremendously with ball control and athleticism."
Meeuwsen, who hails from Hillsboro, Ore., led Texas Brownsville to its first-ever undefeated season in 2013, helping the Ocelots go 37-0 en route to winning the NAIA Division I National Championship. She ranked 38th nationally and led her team with 562 digs, good for an average of 4.97 digs per set. She recorded 24 digs in the national title match versus Biola.
Prior to her stint at Texas Brownsville, Meeuwsen had a two-year stint at the College of Southern Idaho, helping CSI go 57-13 in her time with the program. She was named the Region 18 Libero of the Year as a freshman before leading her team to an NJCAA National Championship as a sophomore. She averaged 4.56 digs per set in 2011 before averaging 4.27 digs per set in 2012.
Meeuwsen prepped at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Ore., earning all-state honors in volleyball and softball.
"I've been fortunate to know Heather for about two years now," Benson said. "She's a two-time national champion, and she'll bring a winning mentality and leadership ability to our program. Her ability in ball control will really help our back row."
A native of Pullman, Nakata joins the Eagles after spending the last two seasons at Wayne State College. The Wildcats went 44-20 in her two years with the program, appearing in the NCAA Tournament in 2012. She played in 30 sets in 2013, appearing in 17 matches.
Nakata graduated from Pullman High School, collecting First Team All-Greater Northern League honors all four years while helping her team win two state titles in 2009 and 2010.
"Jennifer is from nearby Pullman, so it's exciting for her to be able to continue her career close to home," Benson said. "She's a good athlete and a solid player, and she will bring competition to our back row."
Eastern returns 11 letter winners and four starters from last year's team. The Eagles finished 10-21 and 7-13 in the Big Sky in Benson's first year back at the helm after a previous tenure in Cheney from 2000-06.