Sept. 22, 2007
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team apparently learned a lot during its tough pre-conference schedule, as the Eagles are now 3-1 in Big Sky Conference play. Eastern outlasted the host Montana Grizzlies 24-30, 30-22, 30-26, 25-30, 15-12 for its latest win on Saturday night (Sept. 22).
Eastern (4-9) refused to die, storming back from an 8-4 deficit in the deciding stanza with a clutch 6-2 run to tie the game, 10-10. The teams then played to 12-12 before Eastern scored the final three points.
"It was a great match," interim head coach Irene Matlock said. "This was huge for us. It was a pivotal match for us, winning (the second of) two on the road."
Following its road sweep of the Montana schools (EWU defeated Montana State, 3-0, on Thursday), Eastern is now in third place in the early going of the league race, trailing just Portland State (4-0) and Sacramento State (2-0). This year's start to the conference season is a vast improvement on 2006, when the Eagles were 0-5 before rebounding and rallying to finish 10-6.
The Eagles had a number of impressive hitting performances tonight. Chelsea Ross hit .406 (15-2-32), while Amanda Yausie hit .625 (6-1-8) to go with her 41 assists. Hayley Hills led the Eagles in kills for the 11th time in 13 matches this year with 20.
Allison Reinstein had six blocks, not only a career high for the freshman, but tied for the second-highest total attained by an Eagle so far in 2007. The Eagles had an impressive total of four players earn double-digit dig sums: Mandy Daniels (17), Hills (13), JaNae Mortensen (11) and Kristen Ponce (10).
In the first game, Montana (5-9, 1-3 BSC) took a 17-10 lead to put space between itself and the Eagles. Even though Eastern rallied with a timely 7-2 run to come within two at 19-17, that was the closest it would get.
The second game was the opposite, as the Eagles went up 10-4, Montana rallied to within a pair at 17-15, and EWU pulled away from there.
The third game was close throughout the majority of the early going before Montana pulled away from a narrow 21-19 advantage with three straight points for a 24-19 advantage. The closest Eastern got the rest of the way was three (27-24, 28-25 and 29-26).
Montana had control of the fourth stanza, although the Eagles rallied late to make it close. With the Grizzlies up 25-20, four straight Eastern points cut the lead to 25-24. At that point, however, Montana ran off three straight tallies to pull away.
Eastern returns home for its third and fourth home matches of the season. Northern Colorado will play the Eagles at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Sept. 27) and Northern Arizona takes on Eastern at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 29).