Nov. 21, 2008
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team outlasted Sacramento State in a dramatic, intense fourth set to defeat the host Hornets on Friday evening (Nov. 21) by 25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 36-34 scores. The victory clinched at least a share of the Big Sky Conference’s regular-season title for Eastern, as well as the No. 1 seed at the Big Sky Championship.
Mandy Daniels had 34 digs in the contest, which ties for the second-highest total in Eastern Washington history. Lacey Coover set the mark with 41 in a 3-2 loss to Montana on Nov. 13, 1999, while Daniels became the fifth in Eastern annals to hit the 34 mark.
Hayley Hills had 25 kills, the sixth of which entered her into the prestigious 1,000-kill club. That came early in the second set, when her putaway earned Eastern an early 4-0 advantage. The junior became the eighth Eagle to tally 1,000 kills in a career. She now has 1,019, the seventh-highest total in EWU history.
That crazy fourth set saw an incredible total of 26 ties. The 36-34 score was also Eastern’s highest since the Eagles fell 36-34 to Northern Colorado in set one of a 3-2 win over the Bears on Nov. 3, 2007. However, it is the highest-scoring since the NCAA lowered the number of points to win a set from 30 to 25 prior to the 2008 campaign.
The teams were tied on 14 occasions in that stanza before the Eagles pulled away from a 16-all tie by utilizing a 5-0 run to go up 21-16. Then Sacramento State stormed back with its own 7-2 spurt to tie the set 23-23. The teams then were tied at every point until the Eagles broke away from a 34-34 stalemate with kills from Hills and Allison Reinstein.
In set one, the Eagles (17-10, 12-4 BSC) pulled away from a narrow 19-18 edge with a 5-0 spurt to go up 24-18 before prevailing 25-19. Eastern was up in set two 23-21, but the Hornets (9-22, 7-8 BSC) scored the next four points to prevail 25-23. The third set saw the Eagles go up 20-14 and cruise from there for a 25-20 win.
Ashley Hamilton had 55 assists tonight, while Reinstein contributed 13 kills and Chenoa Coviare chad11. Defensively, Hills had 13 digs to record her 14th double-double of the 2008 campaign. Coviare and Reinstein also had six blocks apiece.
The Eagles now look ahead to the Big Sky Championship. Eastern will play the winner of the Montana-Weber State match in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. next Friday (Nov. 28) in Portland, Ore. The Grizzlies and Wildcats play at 9:30 that morning.
Eastern Washington also earned the right to host the 2009 Big Sky Championship by virtue of its clinching of the top seed at this year’s event. Portland State is hosting this year’s Championship because the Vikings claimed last year’s regular-season crown.
Big Sky Conference Championship Seeds
1 – Eastern Washington (12-4)
2 – Portland State (11-4)
3 – Northern Colorado (10-5)
4 or 5 – Montana (9-6)
5 or 4 – Weber State (8-7)
6 – Sacramento State (7-8) or Northern Arizona (6-9)