Eagles Dominate UNC, Set up First-Place Showdown with PSU

Nov. 8, 2008

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The Big Sky Conference volleyball race just got really interesting. Eastern Washington defeated Northern Colorado in convincing fashion 25-12, 25-17, 25-18 on Saturday evening (Nov. 8) to move into second place and set up a showdown at Portland State in seven days with first place on the line.

In tonight's match, the Eagles were hitting on all cylinders, as the team's .416 hitting percentage (49-7-101) was by far the team's best of the year. In fact it was Eastern's best since a 3-0 win over St. Francis (N.Y.) on Sept. 1, 2006, saw the team hit .569 (45-8-65).

The win allowed the Eagles to move past Northern Colorado into second place in the league standings with a 10-4 Big Sky mark, 15-10 overall. The Bears fell to third place at 9-4 in league play, 15-7 overall.

This win allows Eastern Washington to set up a match for first place at Portland State next Saturday (Nov. 15), as the Vikings improved to 11-3 in the Big Sky, 18-6 overall, with a 3-0 win over Northern Arizona tonight. An Eagle win over the Vikings would put Eastern into a first-place tie with one match to play.

Set one tonight saw Eastern dominate in a manner not seen in more than a year, as the Eagles hit .520 (13-0-25) without a single attack error. That was EWU's highest hitting percentage in a set since a 3-0 win at Northern Arizona on Nov. 1, 2007. In the third set of that contest, EWU hit at a .548 clip (19-2-31).

The Eagles went up 10-3 in the initial stanza tonight and did not look back in a 25-12 win. That margin of victory ties for the team's second-largest of the season (EWU won set four of a 3-1 win at Montana State on Nov. 1 by a 25-9 score).

Early in the second set, Northern Colorado took its lone lead of the entire match at 2-1, but that quickly turned into a 12-4 Eastern Washington advantage on the strength of a 11-2 run. The Eagles then cruised to a 25-17 win.

In set three, Eastern Washington roared out of the gates once again, pouncing on the Bears for a 14-6 lead. From there, the Eagles once again cruised to the victory, this time by a 25-18 score.

"I thought we did a nice job early on, taking stuff away from them," head coach Miles Kydd said. "We knew they would try to run their offense down the middle, and we served the ball well and forced them to have to go to the left side."

Individually, Chenoa Coviare hit lights out, recording a .458 hitting percentage (13-2-24). In fact she had kills on seven of her first nine attacks and was hitting .778 (7-0-9) at that point, mid-way through set two. That match average ties for the fourth-best posted by an Eagle in 2008 (with a minimum of 12 kills).

Allison Reinstein also hit at a high percentage, as she contributed a .615 hitting percentage (8-0-13). Hayley Hills had 11 kills, as well, while Ashley Hamilton played well with 36 assists, 10 digs and a .429 hitting percentage (3-0-7). The double-double was her third of the campaign, especially impressive considering tonight's match went just three sets.

Senior Mandy Daniels set the Eagle pace in digs with 16. She concluded her final home match with an assist on a Hamilton kill. Fellow senior Chelsea Ross hit at a .316 clip (6-0-19) and had five digs in the contest. The two were honored with a ceremony prior to tonight's match.

"Our seniors played great tonight," Kydd said. "That was nice for them to be undefeated at home (9-0 this year) and to get a very impressive win tonight. I'm really happy for Chelsea and Mandy."

The Eagles now look ahead to a match with first-place and defending regular-season champion Portland State in the Rose City at 7 p.m. next Saturday (Nov. 15). Eastern Washington controls its own destiny in that wins over the Vikings and Sacramento State the following week would assure EWU no worse than a first-place tie.

"We still have two matches to go," Kydd said. "Hopefully we can carry this through to the road. We'd like to continue our winning on the road."

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