Eastern wraps up second-place in the conference and hosts Bears at Reese Court with NCAA berth going to tournament winner
BIG SKY CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
Friday, November 27
5 p.m. - #1 Portland State (20-7, 14-2) versus #4 Montana (14-13, 10-6)
7 p.m. - #2 Eastern Wash. (18-10, 12-4) versus #3 Northern Colo. (19-11, 12-4)
Saturday, November 28
7 p.m. - Championship Match
After finishing the regular season 18-10, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will turn their attention to the Northern Colorado Bears as they will meet in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Championships this Friday at 7 p.m. Pacific time at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
During the regular season, the Eagles swept the Bears in both of their matches. Both teams finished 12-4 in the league, but EWU enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed by virtue of the season sweep.
They first met on Oct. 17 in Greeley, Colo., and Ashley Hamilton led the Eagles to a 3-1 victory over the Bears. Hamilton finished that match with a triple-double, contributing 43 assists, 14 digs and 11 kills. Eastern shut-out the Bears 3-0 on Nov. 13 at Reese Court in their last meeting, with senior Hayley Hills leading the way with 17 kills and 14 digs.
"They do a good job on first contact -- their team has a lot of offensive options making them a tough team to deal with," said head coach Miles Kydd. "If we can limit their options then it will make it easier for us. And vice versa -- we need to be able to do a good job passing the first balls so we can dictate what is going on."
The No. 1 seed and defending champion Portland State Vikings will take on the No. 4 seed Montana Grizzlies in the 5 p.m. semifinal. The winners from the two semifinals will meet at 7 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 28) for the Big Sky Championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Eagles spilt their two matches this season against Montana and lost both of their matches against Portland State. The Eagles are 9-1 at Reese Court this year, with the lone loss coming to the Vikings. In the past three seasons (2007, 2008 and 2009) the Eagles are 26-5 at Reese Court, including 19-2 the last two seasons.
Eastern has won the tournament to earn the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament twice in 1989 and 2001. Eight times the Eagles have finished as the BSC Tournament runner-up -- 1988, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
Tournament passes, good for general admission to all three matches, are on sale for $15 either on-line (www.goeags.com) or at the door. Single-day prices are $10 for adults, $7 for students and $3 for children in grades K-12. Children 5-and-under are admitted free.
There are 300 free tickets for EWU students with valid identification available at the EWU Bookstore at the Pence Union Building or the EWU Athletic Ticket office at Reese Court. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.
The Eagles previously hosted the tournament in 2004, 2003, 2002 and 1989.
Past Champions (runner-up)
2008 - Portland State (Eastern Wash.)
2007 - Sacramento State (Portland State)
2006 - Sacramento State (Eastern Wash.)
2005 - Sacramento State (Eastern Wash.)
2004 - Sacramento State (Eastern Wash.)
2003 - Sacramento State (Eastern Wash.)
2002 - Sacramento State (Eastern Wash.)
2001 - Eastern Washington (Sacramento St.)
2000 - Sacramento State (Eastern Wash.)
1999 - Northern Arizona (CS Northridge)
1998 - Sacramento State (Eastern Wash.)
1997 - Sacramento State (Northern Ariz.)
1996 - Cal State Northridge (Sacramento St.)
1995 - Idaho (Idaho State)
1994 - Idaho (Montana)
1993 - Idaho (Montana)
1992 - Idaho (Montana)
1991 - Montana (Boise State)
1990 - Idaho State (Montana)
1989 - Eastern Washington (Boise State)
1988 - Weber State (Boise State)
1987 - Idaho State (Montana)
1986 - Idaho State (Montana)
1985 - Portland State (Montana)
1984 - Portland State (Idaho)
1983 - Portland State (Montana State)
1982 - Portland State (Montana)
Eagles Honored Four Seniors on Nov. 14 -- Four seniors -- all of them starters for the Eagles -- were honored in pre-game ceremonies prior to Eastern's game 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 1,405 career kills. She has started 28 Eastern matches this season and is averaging 3.63 kills and 2.72 digs per set with a .164 hitting percentage.
Ashley Hamilton has also started all 28 matches and is averaging 9.55 assists and 1.26 kills per set, and Amanda Yausie has started 21 of 28 matches. She is averaging 1.73 digs per set while JaNae Mortensen, a defensive specialist who is the team's libero, is averaging a team-high 3.32 digs per set. Yausie has a team-leading 25 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)
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 1,416. 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 3.87 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.