Sept. 29, 2007
The magic continues for the Eastern Washington University volleyball team. With a 20-30, 30-27, 30-23, 31-33, 15-13 win over visiting Northern Arizona on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 29), the Eagles won its third straight five-game match.
The last time Eastern had won three straight contests to go to the limit was from Sept. 21-28, 1990, when the Eagles outlasted Nevada, Northern Arizona and Boise State in successive matches. The Eagles had not even played three straight five gamers since Oct. 12-16, 1993 (losing to Washington State before beating Idaho State and Boise State).
Eastern is now 5-1 in Big Sky Conference competition and is currently sitting in third place, trailing Portland State (5-0) and Sacramento State (3-0). Those are the two teams next on the conference slate for the Eagles (6-9).
The Eagles and Lumberjacks played a match with a level of drama not seen very often. From the point that Eastern was leading game four 25-23 until the conclusion of the fifth game, the teams were never separated by more than two points.
In the deciding stanza, Northern Arizona grabbed an early 3-1 lead, but the Eagles quickly took a 6-4 advantage. Incredibly, from the time that Eastern was up 6-5 until the final point of the match was scored, the teams were within one point of each other. After NAU took a 13-12 lead, the Eagles scored the next three points to finish off the contest.
Setting the stage for that dramatic fifth game was an incredible fourth stanza. Even though Eastern Washington was up 20-11 and 24-18, the Lumberjacks stormed back to tie the contest 25-25. The teams then battled within one point of each other until Northern Arizona secured the final three points of the game to force a decider. Each team had a game point (match point in Eastern's case) before NAU capitalized at 32-31.
Hayley Hills had an incredible performance, compiling 25 kills in the contest, the second-highest total tallied by an Eagle so far in 2007 (she had 30 against Idaho State on Sept. 15). Chelsea Ross (14) and Chenoa Coviare (10) also had impressive kill totals.
"Hayley did a great job," interim head coach Irene Matlock said.
Amanda Yausie once again tied her season high in assists with 51 (she also had that many against Utah State on Aug. 25 and Colgate on Aug. 31). The total ties for the sixth-highest in the sophomore's career.
Northern Arizona (6-9, 1-4 BSC) also had a historic performance of its own. Kim Babcock had 33 kills, the third-highest total in NAU history.
"Ross blocked Babcock a couple times, and that was exciting," Matlock said. "She had almost half of her team's kills (67)."
In the initial game, after Northern Arizona went up 17-6, the Eagles outscored the Lumberjacks the rest of the way 14-13, but it was too large of a deficit to overcome.
The second game saw Eastern go up 11-6 and then not see its lead get lower than three until late, when NAU closed to within 25-24. At that point, the Eagles pulled away to win 30-27.
Eastern Washington went up 2-1 in the match with its 30-23 win in the third game. Eastern led 15-8 and 29-17 in that game.
The Eagles will next play a non-conference match, taking on Idaho in Moscow at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (Oct. 2). Eastern Washington returns to Big Sky competition on Friday (Oct. 5), playing at Portland State at 7 p.m.