EWU knocks off nationally-recognized opponent, faces No. 14 Oregon next
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team opened its 2009 campaign with an impressive 25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 25-21 victory over Missouri State at the Oregon Classic in Eugene, Ore. In doing so, the Eagles knocked off a team that received votes in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll and played in last year's NCAA Tournament.
After controlling the first two sets of the match and taking a 2-0 sets lead, the Eagles had to fight back in the third and fourth stanzas.
"I think we had a different focus after being up 2-0 instead of keeping our nose to the grindstone," head coach Miles Kydd said. "But we did a good job finishing and beat a top-50 team, which is significant since that is where we see ourselves."
The team went up 8-2 in the first set and held off a Missouri State push towards the end of the set to claim the 25-22 win. The second set started off close before Eastern pushed away from a narrow 17-16 edge to prevail 25-20.
Missouri State came out on fire out of the locker room after the break, jumping out to 6-0 and 9-1 advantages before the Eagles stormed back with a 13-5 run to tie the set, 14-14. However, the Bears put space between the teams by securing seven straight tallies to turn a 16-16 stalemate into a 23-16 Missouri State advantage.
The fourth set was more of the same, as the Bears went up 5-0 and 10-3 before EWU chipped away at the deficit before tying the score, 13-13. The teams stayed tight until the Eagles broke away from a 21-21 tie with the final four points of the set.
Hayley Hills played spectacularly the first two sets, hitting at a .684 clip when the teams broke for their locker rooms with 14 kills on 19 attempts with just one attack error.
"Missouri State made some adjustments and camped on her (starting in the third set)," Kydd said.
She did come to earth after that point, however, and finished with 20 kills and hit .174 (20-12-46) for the match. The returning Big Sky Conference Player of the Year hit the 20-kill milestone seven times a season ago.
Also attaining double-digit kill totals today were Chenoa Coviare (12) and Cora Kellerman (10). Coviare's hitting percentage was especially impressive, .455 (12-2-22). Ashley Hamilton had 34 assists in the contest, while JaNae Mortensen led the team with 19 digs and four service aces. Hills contributed 13 digs to Eastern's efforts.
The Eagles now look ahead to No. 14 Oregon, who opened its season tonight with a 25-18, 25-8, 26-24 win over San Francisco. A year ago, the Ducks rode a pair of NCAA Tournament wins to a second-successive Sweet 16 appearance.
The Eagles face Oregon at 10 a.m. on Saturday (Aug. 29) before facing San Francisco at 4:30 p.m. Like Missouri State, the Dons are also receiving top-25 votes and played in the NCAA Tournament last year.