September 15, 2007

Hills' 30 Kills Helps Lead Eagles to Win

Sept. 15, 2007

Box Score

Hayley Hills came within four kills of the school record in an Eastern Washington 26-30, 30-25, 30-22, 30-26 home win over Idaho State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match on Saturday (Sept. 15). Hills' kill total of 30 was the highest attained by an Eagle in at least five years and was just four away from the school record of 34, set by Kim Exner against Portland on Sept. 6, 1996.

Also earning an impressive stat total was Mandy Daniels, as she tallied 29 digs in the contest, just one off her career high of 30. That was set in last season's Big Sky Conference championship match against Sacramento State. Amanda Yausie did set a personal high in digs, as her total of 21 outpaced the sophomore's 17-dig output against Portland State on Oct. 14, 2006. Kristen Ponce also had a double-digit total in digs with 10.

Allison Reinstein set the team pace in blocks with four, while Hills had three. Yausie contributed 48 assists to the Eagle cause. Other Eagles with impressive kill totals were Chelsea Ross (12) and Heather Jacoby (11). Jacoby's kill total was a personal record, as well, which was previously set at four against Providence on Sept. 15, 2003.

"Mandy Daniels did a huge job in the back court for us; she got nearly a third of our digs out there (29 of 90)," interim head coach Irene Matlock said. "And Hayley Hills with 30 kills, wow, that's impressive."

The first game of the match saw the teams battle back-and-forth before the initial three-point advantage of the contest was Eastern's at 12-9. That would be the last lead that high by either team until Idaho State went up late, 25-22. Its largest advantage was four at 29-25 and the final score of 30-26.

In the second game, ISU took an early 5-3 lead, but Eastern Washington responded by grabbing a 14-8 edge and then not relinquishing that advantage. The closest the Bengals came was one at 18-17, 19-18 and 20-19. A 6-3 Eagle run at that point put some space between the teams and the Eagles coasted in from there.

Eastern grabbed a commanding early 7-2 lead in the third stanza before Idaho State roared back with a 5-1 run to get within 8-7. A 7-2 EWU spurt extended the advantage out to 15-9. The Eagles then gradually extended their lead throughout the rest of the game. Eastern's largest advantage attained was eight, 25-17.

Idaho State set out to force a fifth game by running out to an 8-3 advantage. Unfortunately for the Bengals, a 15-11 ISU advantage was turned around to a 17-16 Eagle lead on the strength of a 6-1 Eastern spurt. The teams stayed within two until Eastern went up, 25-22, on its way to the match-clinching 30-26 victory.

With the win, the Eagles earned their first league victory of the season, improving to 1-1 in Big Sky play, 2-9 overall. The loss for Idaho State dropped the Bengals to 3-9, 0-2 in Big Sky contests.

"How big is that first conference win? That was a big step we needed to take, and it's a good thing we took it today," Matlock said. "We're taking baby steps to get to our ultimate goal. It's always about learning. We have to (continuously) learn throughout the season so, at the conference tournament, we're playing our best."

The Eagles return to Big Sky play on Thursday (Sept. 20) with a 6 p.m. Pacific Time contest in Bozeman, Mont., versus Montana State. The Bobcats are 1-11, 0-1 in Big Sky play, with a match to play at Northern Colorado tonight.

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