Eagles Fly South

Sept. 2, 2008

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After an impressive showing at the Hilton Classic in Fort Collins, Colo., the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will take on more quality teams this weekend at the Idaho Volleyball Classic in Moscow, Idaho.

First up this weekend will be Notre Dame, a team that is off to a 2-1 start after earning that record at the Shamrock Invitational in Notre Dame, Ind. The Fighting Irish beat IPFW and Nevada before falling to Valparaiso. The Eastern Washington-Notre Dame contest begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 5).

The Vandals are also 2-1; Idaho defeated South Dakota State and Southeast Missouri State and lost to the hosts at the Middle Tennessee State Tournament. The Eagles face Idaho at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 6).

Washington State will enter the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record after defeating Cal State Northridge, Seattle University and Boise State at the Bronco Invite in Boise, Idaho. The Cougars and Eagles battle at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

"We have our work cut out for us this week; we are going to play three good teams," head coach Miles Kydd said. "Notre Dame is a perennial top-50 team, Idaho is a big, athletic team playing at home and Washington State is a good Pac-10 team that is 3-0 already.

"We're looking for some wins. Come November, the NCAA Selection Committee wants to know who you beat, and we want to go down there this weekend, play well and win some matches."

Eastern Washington had a subpar opening contest to its 2008 season which saw the Eagles fall to Denver 25-18, 25-17, 25-22, but respond impressively with a dominating 25-23, 25-12, 25-14 win over Arkansas in its next contest. The Eagles held the Razorbacks to a -.085 hitting percentage, the first time EWU has held its opponent to a negative hitting percentage since a 3-0 win over St. Francis (N.Y.) on Sept. 1, 2006.

In the tournament finale, the Eagles took 17th-ranked Colorado State to the wire before falling to the host Rams in five, 25-12, 25-19, 25-27, 21-25, 15-9. EWU came within a hair of snapping Colorado State's home winning streak, which now sits at 17.

New NCAA Rules for 2008                                                         
The term "game" has been changed to "set." In other words, a team needs to win three sets to claim a match. Volleyball throughout the world has referred to "sets" rather than "games" for the past several years.

The number of points required to win sets 1-4 is now 25. From 2001-07, it was 30. Rally scoring remains in effect; prior to 2001, the serving team was the only one allowed to tally a point on any single rally. The fifth set will also remain rally scoring, played to 15 points. All sets must still be won by at least two points.

This rule change was enacted to increase focus and excitement levels, from both players and spectators, throughout each set. International and Olympic volleyball has used 25-point sets since moving to the rally-scoring system in 1999.

As a result, the number of substitutions allowed for each team per set has been decreased from 15 to 12.

Two Named to All-Tournament Team                        
A pair of Eagles was named to the All-Tournament team at the Hilton Classic in Fort Collins, Colo., played from Aug. 29-30: Mandy Daniels and Hayley Hills.

Daniels averaged 5.27 digs per set for the weekend, which included an incredible 30-dig output in Eastern Washington's 3-2 loss to No. 17 Colorado State in the tournament's finale.

Hills contributed 3.36 kills per set. Her best showing of the weekend came in Eastern's dominating 3-0 win over Arkansas. She had 16 kills in that contest and hit .423 (16-5-26).

Kydd Takes over Reigns                                
The 2008 Eastern Washington Eagles will be led by first-year head coach Miles Kydd.

Kydd, however, is no stranger to the program, as he spent the past four years as the team's assistant coach.

He also brings to the position several years of experience at the international level as well as at the collegiate level from his native Canada.

Joining him on the coaching staff is Lisa Westlake, a highly-respected mind in the sport of volleyball, and Wes Walker, who has worked with the Eagles the past couple years as a volunteer assistant coach.

Daniels Hits 1,000 Mark  
                                
Senior libero Mandy Daniels hit and surpassed the 1,000-dig mark this past weekend. After compiling 30 in Eastern's 3-2 loss to No. 17 Colorado State, she has 1,017 in her career.

After a quality weekend, she earned mention to the Hilton Classic's All-Tournament team.

Daniels set records last season and has eyes set on more this season.

She finished 2007 with 4.81 digs per set, which smashed the previous record of 4.62, then held by Andrea Verdoljak (2005). The year before, 2006, Daniels had 4.40 digs per set, good for fifth on that list.

Also, Daniels had 539 total digs in 2007, just one shy of that school record of 540, held by Verdoljak (2005).

Daniels is on pace to set the school record for career digs per set, as her current average of 4.36 is significantly ahead of Verdoljak's 3.95 (2002-04).

For her efforts last year, she earned Big Sky Conference Libero of the Year accolades.

Hills Getting Some Major Elevation                      
Junior outside hitter Hayley Hills is coming off an outstanding year, as she placed herself fourth in the Eagle record book for both kills per set (4.38) and total kills (491). Also, her career kills per set average of 3.57 currently places her second in that category (Kim Exner, 1995-98, currently holds that record at 4.43).

In 2007, Hills was rewarded for her performances with an appointment to the All-Big Sky Conference first team.

This past weekend, Hills earned mention to the All-Tournament team at the Hilton Classic. She averaged 3.36 kills per set in Eastern's three contests and earned her 600th career kill in the tournament's finale against No. 17 Colorado State.

Cooking up some Kills
                          
Sophomore outside hitter Alysha Cook put together some outstanding performances in 2007 and earned mention to the All-Big Sky Conference second team.

She played well for Eastern Washington all season, as her 2.90 kills per set average was the second-highest on the team. She was also third on the squad in blocks per set with 0.73.

One of Cook's best performances of 2007 came against eventual Big Sky champion Sacramento State, when she hit .409 (10-1-22) in the three-set contest played on Oct. 13.

Where Will the Team Start the 2009 Season?
With its season-opening contest with Denver on Aug. 29, the Eastern Washington Eagles will have now opened the past 10 seasons (1999-2008) in 10 different districts/states (in chronological order from 1999: District of Columbia, Michigan, Maine, Florida, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Kansas, Arizona and Colorado).

Eagles Place Fifth in Preseason Poll               
The Eastern Washington Eagles were selected fourth in the Big Sky Conference's preseason poll. Portland State placed first and was followed, in order, by Sacramento State, Weber State, EWU, Northern Colorado, Montana, Northern Arizona, Idaho State and Montana State.

Looking Back at 2007
                       
The Eagles are coming off another outstanding season, as Eastern went 12-4 in Big Sky Conference play to finish third, its 12th-straight top-three league finish, and advanced to the league semifinals for the 11th consecutive campaign. Eastern Washington also went a perfect 7-0 in five-set matches and rallied from a sets deficit on nine separate occasions. The last came in a comeback 3-2 win over Northern Arizona in the Big Sky quarterfinals.

The team returns all six starters plus the libero from that squad (and 10 of 12 letterwinners). This year's squad has a mix of experience and youth, as it will be comprised of two seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and six freshmen.

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