August 27, 2007

Eagles Head to USF

Aug. 27, 2007

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Another week, another road trip.

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team, just back from playing three matches at the Sheraton Four Points Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Ariz., is getting ready to hit the road again. This time, the Eagles will head to San Francisco, Calif., for the PowerAde/Asics Classic and three more contests.

At this weekend's tournament, EWU will face a trio of 2-1 teams in Colgate, Oral Roberts and San Francisco. The Eagles have only played those three teams a total of five times, as it will be the first-ever meeting with Colgate, the Eagles won the only match with Oral Roberts in 1999 (also played in California - that time in Fresno), and EWU and San Francisco have split four all-time meetings.

Eastern takes on Colgate at 5 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 31) before playing Oral Roberts at 1 and San Francisco at 7, respectively, the next day.

This will be Eastern Washington's first trip to the city of San Francisco. The last time the Eagles played in the Bay Area was at the 2004 Stanford Invitational, where the Eagles lost to powerhouses Stanford and Penn State and beat USF in the team's last meeting, 3-1.

Last weekend, the Eagles rallied from a tough first game of the season, a 30-11 loss to Saint Mary's, to have a respectable weekend. The Eagles stayed close the final two games of that match before losing them, 30-27, 30-24. Against the host Arizona Wildcats, a team that received votes in the AVCA preseason top-25 poll, Eastern started off well by taking a 19-18 lead in game one before falling, 30-25, 30-18, 30-24. A game two win against Utah State was not enough, as EWU dropped a 30-26, 26-30, 30-27, 30-21 decision.

Hayley Hills was named to the all-tournament team after she tallied 3.3 kills and 2.4 digs per game. She also set a career high for kills in a match with 15 versus Arizona. Other outstanding performances were enacted by Amanda Yausie, as she had 51 assists in the USU match, and Mandy Daniels, who tied a career mark for digs in a three-game match with 21 against the U of A.

 

Coach's Quotes on the Weekend

"This past weekend was the start of EWU's trial by fire," head coach Irene Matlock said. "We are a young team with lots to learn about ourselves and the game of volleyball. We started off the season playing a young but experienced team, Saint Mary's. For our first outing, we definitely struggled, but the goals we had set down for our first tournament was to keep improving and learn as much as we could.

"Our second match we played the host school, Arizona. They are big, strong and experienced, but we learned something from our first match and came out fighting in the first game. We lost a little momentum in the second game, but came back in the third and showed more fight. We definitely improved from our first match.

"In our third match against Utah State, we won a game and saw improvement. All in all, I think last weekend gave us information about the level we should be at and areas we need to focus on in practice.

"This weekend, all three matches will be tough. We are looking to still learn, but more importantly, learn to compete.

"We have a very young team and a tough preseason schedule. We want to get the most out of every opportunity that presents itself. We view this preseason as a battle ground to prepare us to compete and win in the Big Sky."

 

Let's Meet the Opponents

Colgate went 2-1 at the Colgate Classic last weekend, falling to New Hampshire in four games before rebounding to defeat Niagara and Rhode Island, each of those in four games. The Red Raiders went 14-15 last year and were picked fourth in the Patriot League's preseason poll.

Oral Roberts also enters this weekend with a 2-1 mark after losing to Lamar in five, sweeping Louisiana Tech and edging out Rice, 3-2 (18-16 in the fifth game), at the Mizuno Invitational I. The Golden Eagles were picked second in the Summit League's preseason poll after going 26-9 last year and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. A match with Arkansas will be played on Tuesday (Aug. 28) before the Golden Eagles head to San Francisco.

San Francisco rebounded from losing its first five games of the season to win its next six. After being swept by No. 8 Washington, the Dons were down, 2-0, to Cal State Northridge before rallying for a 27-30, 24-30, 30-27, 32-30, 15-10 victory. A 3-0 sweep of Fresno State completed USF's successful weekend. Last season, San Francisco went 22-10. This year, USF was picked fifth in the WCC's preseason poll.

 

Let's Get This Party Started Early

Eastern Washington began the 2007 campaign with the earliest start date in school history, Aug. 24. The earliest pervious "opening day" for Eastern volleyball was Aug. 25, which happened last year as the Eagles began that season with 3-0 wins over Syracuse and Louisiana Tech.

 

Where Will the Team Start the 2008 Season?

The Eastern Washington Eagles have now opened the past nine seasons (1999-2007) in nine different districts/states (in chronological order from 1999: District of Columbia, Michigan, Maine, Florida, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Kansas and Arizona).

 

700 Collegiate Wins and Counting

The mentor for the Eagles this year will be interim head coach Irene Matlock, who comes to Eastern with an impressive resume garnered from her time as the head coach at the Community Colleges of Spokane.

In her time at CCS, she amassed a stunning 715-246 record (.744 winning percentage), attaining winning marks in every season. Her 1988 record of 54-2 (.964) earned her the highest win total and winning percentage in Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) history.

In 1994, she was named the AVCA National Coach of the Year at the community college level.

She also has previous experiences with Eastern Washington, having earned a master's in science degree from the school in 1979. From 1977-79, she served as assistant coach and athletic intern, and she acted as the program services administrator in 1979.

She takes over for former head coach Wade Benson, who departed on July 2 to take a position at Auburn.

 

Amanda and Mandy Lead the Way

The Eastern Washington Eagles enter the 2007 campaign a very young team, as evidenced by its freshman-sophomore-junior-senior breakdown of 7-5-1-2. The Eagles return one starter (plus the libero), allowing many players to earn the opportunity for playing time.

Returning from last year's starting lineup will be sophomore setter Amanda Yausie and junior libero Mandy Daniels.

 

Amazing Amanda

Eagle sophomore setter Amanda Yausie finished her weekend on a high note, tallying 51 assists in a 3-1 loss to Utah State. The assist total is the sixth-highest total of her career. Even more impressively, she hit .571 (8-0-14) in that contest, by far the best hitting performance of her career (with at least eight attacks). Her previous personal record of .300 (3-0-10) was set in a four-game win over Portland State on Oct. 14, 2006.

She had an outstanding freshman season for Eastern, placing fourth among Big Sky Conference players in assists per game and 201st nationally with 9.68. She was also fourth in the league in service aces per game with 0.34.

Her season-high assist total of 55 came in an Oct. 5 four-game win road over Montana State. She finished the season with matches of 50+ assists and 11 with 40 or more assists tallied.

 

Stable in the Back

The Eagles return the mainstay of their backcourt in Mandy Daniels, as the junior is coming off an outstanding 2006 season. She placed sixth in the Big Sky Conference and 152nd among NCAA Division I players in digs per game with 4.4. When only conference matches were considered, her outstanding average of 5.36 digs per contest placed her second in the league.

She saved her best effort for last in 2006, as she had a 30-dig output in Eastern's conference championship match showdown with Sacramento State. That total helped Eastern as a team tally 101 digs, 12 more than the team's previous season high.

Daniels began 2007 on a high note, as she tied a career record for digs in a three-game match with 21 versus the Arizona Wildcats on their home court. That dig total also ties for the seventh-highest of Daniels' career in a match of any length.

 

Hills Getting Some Elevation

Sophomore outside hitter Hayley Hills had an outstanding weekend of play at the Sheraton Four Points Wildcat Classic, as she tallied 3.3 kills and 2.4 digs per game for the tournament.

Her best performance came against Arizona, when she recorded 15 kills to lead the team and break a personal record, previously set at 14 in a 3-1 win over Texas-San Antonio on Aug. 26, 2006.

 

Ridiculous Ross

Sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Ross ended the 2006 season on the highest of highs, not only leading the team in hitting percentage in its two biggest matches of the season, but nearly breaking a record in the process.

In Eastern's 3-0 sweep over Portland State in the Big Sky Conference semifinals, Ross hit .692 (9-0-13), the third-highest hitting percentage in Big Sky Championship history

The next day, she hit .333 (5-1-12) in the championship match showdown with Sacramento State.

 

Jumping Jacoby (and Baby)

Heather Jacoby (maiden name Gordon) returns to the Eagle volleyball program after a two-year hiatus. In that time period, she and her husband, Michael, lived in Leesville, La., where he served in the Army at Fort Polk. During their time there, two hurricanes (Rita and Katrina) hit the area, which is located about 110 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico and near the Texas border.

She and Michael have a son, Justin, who was born on Feb. 16, 2007.

 

Time to Make Some Noise

The Eagles enter 2007 with an amazing attendance streak, having averaged at least 1,000 fans per match for the past eight seasons.

Eastern Washington has also placed in the top 30 nationally in average attendance for the past 10 seasons with a high placement of 13th coming in 2003 (1,641 fans per contest).

Last year, Eastern Washington averaged 1,297 spectators per match, its best average in three years, and placed 26th in the final national rankings.

The Eagles have used that advantage to the utmost over the past 10 years, going 85-12 (.876 winning percentage) in that time frame.

 

EWU on TV in the Islands

The Eagles will have its opening match at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Volleyball Challenge versus host Hawai'i broadcast live on KFVE, a local television station in Honolulu. Eagle fans located elsewhere can purchase access to watch the contest online at www.hawaiiantelmedia.com.

 

Eagles Place Fifth in Preseason Poll

The Eastern Washington Eagles were selected fifth in the Big Sky Conference's preseason poll. Five-time defending champion Sacramento placed first and was followed by Portland State, Montana, Weber State, EWU, Northern Arizona, Idaho State, Northern Colorado and Montana State.

 

Big Sky Championship Alterations

There will be a couple of changes to the Big Sky Conference Championship this year, as the tournament will be played at a predetermined site and will be contested over just two days, not three.

Sacramento State, by virtue of its regular-season title last year, will play host to the Championship. Previously, the current season's regular-season champion would host the tournament.

The matches will take place from Nov. 23-24, with both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds taking place the first day and the final the second.

The NCAA Tournament begins the following weekend at 16 nonpredetermined campus sites throughout the country.

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