Two Ranked Teams Await

Sept. 3, 2007

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The growing pains continue.

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team takes part in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Volleyball Classic this week and will see its level of opposition taken to an even higher level. The Eagles are set to face No. 16 Hawai'i (2-2 and will play No. 5 UCLA on Monday night), 19th-ranked Santa Clara (5-1) and Wichita State (4-2).

Eastern has gone through some growing pains the past couple weeks, showing signs of promise in a 0-3 weekend at the Sheraton Four Points Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Ariz., before recording an impressive comeback win in a 1-2 outing at the PowerAde/Asics Classic in San Francisco, Calif.

"We are a young team with lots to learn about ourselves and the game of volleyball," interim head coach Irene Matlock said. "We have 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."

This weekend's tournament will mark Eastern Washington's second trip to Hawaii in three years, as the Eagles played in the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic to begin the 2004 schedule. This week, EWU takes on Hawai'i at 10 p.m. PT on Thursday (Sept. 6) before facing SCU and the Shockers at 8 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 7) and Saturday (Sept. 8), respectively.

All of Eastern Washington's matches this week will be broadcast live on KFVE, a television station based in Honolulu. Eagle fans located elsewhere can purchase access to watch the Hawai'i-EWU contest online at www.hawaiiantelmedia.com. Free audio coverage of that match can be accessed at www.sportsradio1420.com.

In Eastern Washington's first match last weekend, the Eagles enacted an incredible comeback in defeating Colgate, 25-30, 23-30, 30-18, 30-19, 15-10. The win was EWU's first from a 2-0 deficit since toppling Oregon State, 3-2, on Oct. 5, 2002. In addition, it gave Matlock her first career NCAA Division I win in dramatic fashion on her birthday.

In that contest, Chenoa Coviare hit an amazing .750 (17-2-20), including an incredible 1.000 percentage (8-0-8) in the final three games of that match. Hayley Hills also had an outstanding match, as she tallied 22 kills and hit .362 (22-5-47). Unfortunately, the weekend ended in disappointing fashion for Eastern, as the Eagles dropped a pair of matches on Saturday (Sept. 1), losing to Oral Roberts, 27-30, 30-23, 30-15, 30-20, and San Francisco, 33-31, 30-20, 30-21.

 

Let's Meet the Opponents

Hawai'i uncharacteristically lost two of its first three matches of the home and season schedules before rallying to go 2-0 in its first two matches of the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic. The Rainbow Wahine will bring 3-2 mark into Monday night's (Sept. 3) match with fifth-ranked UCLA (3-1). Hawai'i has defeated Colorado State, Kansas State and Louisville and have dropped decisions to Michigan and Oregon State. The Rainbow Wahine will begin its 2007 season with 11 straight home matches.

Santa Clara started its season in dominating fashion, sweeping each of its first five matches before running into No. 7 Florida, who then turned the tables and swept the Broncos in the championship match of the USA Credit Union Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. Wins came against Cal State Fullerton, Texas-San Antonio, Boise State, North Carolina State and Georgia Southern.

Wichita State rallied from a 1-2 start to its season by running away with the Denver Invitational title, sweeping all three of its matches. The Shockers have defeated North Texas, DePaul, Auburn and Denver and have lost to Kansas State and Cal Poly.

 

First Win on her Birthday

Eagle interim head coach Irene Matlock celebrated her birthday in a memorable manner on Friday (Aug. 31), as the Eagles were able to rally from 2-0 down to defeat Colgate, 25-30, 23-30, 30-18, 30-19, 15-10. That was also the first time that Eastern Washington has rallied from two games down since a 30-32, 26-30, 30-27, 32-30, 15-10 victory over Oregon State on Oct. 5, 2002.

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

 

Hills Getting Some Elevation

Sophomore outside hitter Hayley Hills has had an amazing set of performances over the past couple weeks, earning mention to all-tournament teams at both the Sheraton Four Points Wildcat Classic and the PowerAde/Asics Classic.

In the first weekend of play on the University of Arizona campus, she tallied 3.3 kills and 2.4 digs per game in the three matches.

Her best performance that weekend came against the host Wildcats, 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.

In her next three matches at the University of San Francisco, she averaged 4.00 kills, 2.50 digs and 0.58 blocks per game and hit .291 (48-14-117) in the three matches.

Hills' best match that weekend came in Eastern's dramatic 3-2 win over Colgate, as she had 22 kills in that contest. That not only broke her previous career record of 15 (set just two matches previously in that Arizona match), but it was also the most recorded by any Eagle since Chrystal Johnson had 25 in a 3-1 win over Northern Colorado on Nov. 2, 2006.

 

Unstoppable Chenoa

Freshman middle blocker Chenoa Coviare had a simply amazing performance in Eastern Washington's incredible comeback 25-30, 23-30, 30-18, 30-19, 15-10 victory over Colgate on Friday (Aug. 31).

In that match, Coviare hit .750 (17-2-20), an extraordinary hitting percentage for a five-game match, and was literally perfect the final three games, hitting 1.000 (8-0-8) in those contests.

The hitting percentage was the highest recorded by an Eagle (with at least 12 kills) since Brittney Page hit .875 (15-1-16) in a 3-0 sweep of St. Francis (N.Y.) on Sept. 1, 2006. It is also the second-highest hitting percentage recorded by an Eagle in at least five years.

She is setting the team pace in blocks per game so far this year with 1.14.

 

Amazing Amanda

Eagle sophomore setter Amanda Yausie finished her play at the Sheraton Four Points Wildcat Classic 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 second-best career hitting percentage was set in her next match versus Colgate on Friday (Aug. 31), when she hit at a .333 clip (6-2-12). She had 51 assists in that contest, as well.

Yausie 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- and career-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.

That contest started an impressive stretch of four straight matches in which Daniels recorded at least 19 digs (21-20-19-22).

 

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.

She has recorded double-digit kill totals three times so far in 2007, versus Utah State (10), Colgate (14) and Oral Roberts (14).

 

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 near the Texas border.

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

Jacoby has seen action in three matches for the Eagles so far.

 

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).

 

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.

 

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.

 

Audio/Video Coverage

All matches played either at Reese Court or on the road in Big Sky Conference play will be available to view on the Internet through the Eagle GamePlan. Information on subscribing may be accessed at www.goeags.com. Passes may be purchased for EWU contests only (which includes football and men's and women's basketball games, as well), all Big Sky Conference teams' matches or for single games.

Audio coverage for Eagle football games will be available through KGA's website,  www.1510kga.com. Men's and women's basketball contests will be broadcast through Teamline and may be accessed at www.teamline.cc. There is no cost for these broadcasts.

More information, including rosters, schedules, releases and statistics for every Eastern Washington University athletics team, may be accessed at www.goeags.com.

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