Fresh off two conference wins at home to pull into a second-place tie, Eagles travel to Washington State for a non-conference match followed by the final regular season Big Sky match with Sacramento State
Now 17-9 on the season, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team still has two matches to prepare for the upcoming Big Sky Conference Tournament it will host Nov. 27-28.
The Eagles are coming off two important home victories over the weekend, against Northern Colorado on Friday (Nov. 13) and Northern Arizona on Saturday (Nov. 14). Eastern swept both matches to move into a tie for second in the league standings with UNC at 11-4, with PSU leading the way in first at 13-2.
Eastern will face Washington State Tuesday (Nov. 17) in Pullman, Wash., with match time set for 7 p.m. Pacific time. Washington State started the season 12-0, but has struggled in Pacific 10 Conference play, going 5-10 in the league with a six-match losing streak. WSU is led by middle blocker Meagan Ganzer, who has a team high 3.10 kills per set.
"Since we started the season we have identified some teams we want to do well against, and Washington State is one of them," said Eastern head coach Miles Kydd. "We talk about how every match is the most important -- it's kind of a cliché but it's true and something we preach. We don't have a lot of time to prepare for them with the quick turnaround, so we'll go down there, battle hard and see what we get."
The Eagles will then head to Sacramento State for their last Big Sky regular season match on Saturday (Nov. 21) with match time set for 7 p.m. The Hornets are 16-14 on the season and 6-8 in conference.
"We want to play well against Sacramento State -- it doesn't matter whether it's now or later," said Kydd, whose team defeated the Hornets in their first meeting this season 3-1 in Cheney. "We want to win as many games as we can and we don't look ahead."
Eastern will host the four-team Big Sky Conference Championships on Nov. 27-28 at Reese Court. The top four schools in the standings will battle for their chance at an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
Eagles Honored Four Seniors this past Saturday -- Four seniors -- all of them starters for the Eagles -- were honored in pre-game ceremonies prior to Eastern's game last Saturday (Nov. 14) versus Northern Arizona. Leading the way is Hayley Hills, who ranks second in school history and 19th all-time in the Big Sky Conference with 1,396 career kills. She has started all 26 Eastern matches this season and is averaging 3.65 kills and 2.67 digs per set with a .165 hitting percentage.
Ashley Hamilton has also started all 26 matches and is averaging 9.60 assists and 1.29 kills per set, and Amanda Yausie has started 19 of 26 matches. She is averaging 1.67 digs per set while JaNae Mortensen, a defensive specialist who is the team's libero, is averaging a team-high 3.22 digs per set. Yausie has a team-leading 22 ace serves, and both Hills and Mortensen have 18.
"All four of our graduating seniors are starters and that speaks well for them," said Eastern head coach Miles Kydd. "They have made a tremendous commitment to Eastern and have been major contributors to our program. We hate to lose such a great group of seniors, but that's the nature of college athletics -- they come and then they go."
The Eagles are 9-1 at home this year. In the past three seasons (2007, 2008 and 2009) all four seniors have played at EWU, the Eagles are 26-5 at Reese Court, including 19-2 the last two seasons.
"The times they have lost at home is a very small number," added Kydd. "That's a tribute to those seniors."
#1 - JaNae Mortensen - DS - Pleasant Grove,
Utah (Snow College / Pleasant Grove H.S. '06)
#3 - Ashley Hamilton - S - Alpine, Utah (Arizona / Lone Peak H.S. '06)
#9 - Amanda Yausie - S - Colonsay, Saskatchewan (Colonsay H.S. '06)
#13 - Hayley Hills - OH - Quesnel, B.C. (Correlieu Secondary '06)
Eagles to Host Big Sky Championships -- After claiming the Big Sky Conference's regular-season title in 2008, the Eagles earned the right to host the league's 2009 Tournament.
The semifinals will take place at 5 and 7 p.m. on Nov. 27, while the title contest will start at 7 p.m. the following evening. If the season ended today, Portland State (13-2, 19-7) would be the No. 1 seed and host No. 4 Montana (8-6, 12-13) in the 5 p.m. game. The No. 2 seed would be Eastern (11-4, 17-9) and they would play Northern Colorado (11-4, 18-11) at 7 p.m.. The winner s of the semifinals will play in the title game, with that winner earning the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, which starts the following weekend.
The Eagles previously hosted the tournament in 2004, 2003, 2002 and 1989.
Hills in Second on Career Kills List -- Senior outside hitter Hayley Hills has climbed into the second spot on Eastern Washington's career kills list, as she now has 1,396. Her total only trails the school record of 1,860, set by Kim Exner (1995-98), and also ranks 19th all-time in Big Sky Conference history.
Hills is also currently second in school history in kills per set, embedded into that slot with a 3.90 average. Holding the record is Exner (4.43); in third is Juli Argotow (3.42).
Hills earned her 1,000th kill in a 3-1 win at Sacramento State on Nov. 21 of last year. That gained her entry to the 1,000-kill club, becoming the eighth Eagle in history to do so.
Following impressive performance in wins over Montana and Montana State on Sept. 18 and 19, respectively, Hills was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week. In those two matches, she averaged 4.71 kills and 3.14 digs per set in helping the Eagles to 3-1 and 3-0 respective wins over the Grizzlies and Bobcats. In the Montana State match, she had 21 kills in a three-set match.
Hills also earned POW honors on four occasions a year ago.
Eagles Rank Nationally in Attendance -- The Eastern Washington Eagles have earned the attention of the greater Spokane area and it has shown, as the team is averaging 976 fans per contest, an average that ranks the squad 50th in the country (through matches last weekend).
The highlight of the home schedule came on Oct. 9 when 1,440 saw the Eagles take on Portland State in a first-versus-second battle. That crowd was the largest for a home contest since Sept. 23, 2006, when 1,484 saw Eastern take on Northern Colorado.
The Eagles have ranked in the top 40 in attendance in 11 of the past 12 years. Eastern Washington has won 18 of its last 19 contests at Reese Court, including a 9-1 record at home this season.