After 3-1 loss at Montana drops Eagles to third in the tight Big Sky standings, EWU takes on first-place Portland State on Friday
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team looks to make the Big Sky Conference regular-season race this year even tighter on Friday (Nov. 6), as the third-place Eagles (15-8, 9-3 BSC) will take on first-place Portland State (16-7, 10-2 BSC) at 7 that evening on the PSU campus.
The match will be the only one of the week for the Eagles before the team returns home for their final two home matches of the 2009 regular season the following weekend. Eastern's Nov. 13 opponent, Northern Colorado (16-9, 9-2 BSC) is currently in second place in the league standings.
When the Eagles faced Portland State in Cheney on Oct. 9, the Vikings pulled away late to prevail 23-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-17. The loss is Eastern's lone one at home in the team's last 17 matches at Reese Court.
After following up that impressive defeat of the Eagles, the Vikings fell at Northern Colorado 3-1. However, Portland State has then proceeded to sweep its next five matches heading into this week.
A year ago, the Eagles took both regular-season matches from the Vikings, but Portland State returned the favor at home with a 3-1 win in the league's championship match.
Eagles to Play Host to Big Sky Championship
After claiming the Big Sky Conference's regular-season title in 2008, the Eagles earned the right to play host to the 2009 Tournament.
The semifinals will take place at 5 and 7 p.m. on Nov. 27, while the title contest will start at 7 the following evening.
The winner of that match will earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, which starts the following weekend.
The Eagles previously played host to the tournament in 2004, 2003, 2002 and 1989.
Hamilton Ties NCAA Division I Record, Earns Big Sky Player of the Week Honors
After having one of the best performances in NCAA history on Oct. 23 and then following that up by playing at a top level the following evening, setter Ashley Hamilton was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week.
Against Weber State in Eastern's first match of the week, a 3-0 EWU win, Hamilton had kills on all 12 of her attacks to tie the NCAA Division I record for hitting percentage (minimum 10 attacks) at a perfect 1.000 (12-0-12). That average also broke the Big Sky Conference and Eastern Washington school records.
The former league record (minimum three attacks per set) was .917 (11-0-12). Sacramento State's Tasman Dwyer recorded that average against Portland State in a 3-0 win on Oct. 28, 1999, while Idaho's Brittany Van Haverbeke did so in a 3-0 sweep of Gonzaga on Nov. 8, 1994.
The school record (minimum eight attacks) had been .900 (9-0-10). That was set on Sept. 18, 2000, by Janelle Ruen, when she helped the Eagles to a 3-0 win over Texas-Pan American that day.
Hamilton also helped set the team as a whole to a .569 hitting percentage against the Wildcats (47-8-80), Eastern's best since hitting .569 (45-8-65) in a 3-0 defeat of St. Francis (N.Y.) on Sept. 1, 2006. The senior had 32 assists, six digs and four blocks that evening.
Against Idaho State the next night, another 3-0 win for the Eagles, Hamilton once again played at a top level, hitting .444 herself (4-0-9) and helping the team to a .299 hitting percentage (44-12-107). The Alpine, Utah, native also had 34 assists, six digs and four blocks in that match.
For the week, Hamilton hit at an incredible .762 clip (16-0-21) and averaged 11.00 assists, 1.50 digs and 1.17 blocks per set.
She moved her kill streak to 15 early in the Idaho State match before that incredible streak, dating to a 3-1 win over Northern Colorado on Oct. 17, was snapped. Hamilton did, however, move her streak of consecutive attacks without an error to 32 before ultimately seeing it end at Montana State on Friday (Oct. 30).
The award is her second of the season.
Hamilton has 1st Triple-Double in 7 Years
Ashley Hamilton had an outstanding match on Oct. 17 in helping the Eagles to a 3-1 road win over Northern Colorado.
In that contest, she recorded the first triple-double by an Eagle in seven years. Hamilton had 43 assists, 11 kills and 14 digs in the contest. The Alpine, Utah, native also hit at a very high percentage with just one attack error in 19 attempts, .526 (11-1-19).
Janelle Ruen had Eastern's last triple-double, when she contributed 10 kills, 10 assists and 14 digs to a 3-0 win over George Washington on Sept. 14, 2002, in Boise, Idaho.
In fact, Hamilton had an impressive week, hitting at a .577 clip (16-1-26) to go with 9.67 assists, 2.22 digs and 0.67 blocks per set in Eastern's two matches against the Bears and Northern Arizona.
Hamilton Named Big Sky POW
Senior setter Ashley Hamilton was an all-around offensive force in helping the Eagles to a pair of road victories from Sept. 25-26.
She helped lead the team to a .390 hitting percentage in a 3-0 sweep of Weber State after setting the team to a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down at Idaho State in a 3-2 win.
Individually, she averaged 12.25 assists per set, but was also an intimidating offensive threat herself, as she hit at a .600 clip in the two road matches (14-2-20). Defensively, she was solid, averaging 2.50 digs and 0.62 blocks per set in the two contests.
In the five-set win in Pocatello, Hamilton had 55 assists, her highest total of the season and the 10th-most by a Big Sky player in 2009. Hamilton hit .500 (8-2-12) that night. She also did the job defensively, as her 14 digs that night was a career high for the setter.
Hamilton had 43 assists in the sweep of the Wildcats, which is a very impressive number for a match just three sets long. It actually comes out to a higher assists-per-set ratio then she achieved the night before (14.33 versus 11.00). She also hit at a .750 clip (6-0-8) in that WSU match.
The award was the first for Hamilton.
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 1,354. Her total only trails the school record of 1,860, set by Kim Exner (1995-98).
Hills is also currently second in school history in kills per set, embedded into that slot with a 3.88 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.
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, especially impressive considering the match went just three sets. It is tied for the 13th-most by a Big Sky player in a match of any length so far this year and is the highest total attained in a three-set contest.
Hills also earned POW honors on four occasions a year ago.
Petroni Rides 33 Digs to POW Honors
After tallying 57 career digs leading into the final week of September, sophomore libero Lindsey Petroni nearly doubled that total with 47 in two matches in helping the Eagles to 3-1 wins over Idaho and Sacramento State on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, respectively.
She was then rewarded for her outstanding performances with Big Sky Conference Co-Player of the Week accolades. In doing so, Petroni became the first defensive-focused player in Eastern Washington history to earn the award.
Most notably, she tallied 33 digs in the Idaho contest, a total that tied for the seventh-highest total in school history. In fact, it tied for the second-most in school annals in a match less than five sets long. That feat earned her the 17th spot in Eastern's 30-dig club.
Her dig total is the most by any Big Sky player so far in 2009 in a match that did not go the maximum five sets and is just one off the highest five-set sum.
The 33 digs are also tied for the 16th-most by any NCAA Division I player this year in a contest four sets or fewer (the most recent national statistics are through Oct. 26).
The Spokane, Wash., native then followed that up with a solid 14-dig performance in the Big Sky win over the Hornets two days later. For the week, Petroni averaged 5.88 digs per set. She also contributed seven assists and two service aces in the two matches.
Incredibly, every single one of her 57 career digs leading into the UI match had come away from home.
Petroni shared the week's award with Idaho State's Emily Waldron.
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 926 fans per contest, an average that ranks the squad 48th in the country.
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 16-of-17 contests at Reese Court.
Comeback From 2-0 Down
The Eastern Washington Eagles went into the locker rooms in their match at Idaho State on Sept. 25 down 25-17, 25-21, but rallied to complete an impressive 3-2 victory with 25-21, 25-17, 15-13 set victories.
The rally from 2-0 down was the first for head coach Miles Kydd since he took over the Eagles at the beginning of the 2008 campaign and was the initial one for the EWU program since a 25-30, 23-30, 30-18, 30-19, 15-10 victory over Colgate on Aug. 31, 2007.
Busy First Month for Eagles
The Eagles played some pretty impressive competition the first three weeks of the season, including three teams currently ranked in the top 25, each on its home courts.
To conclude the pre-conference portion of the schedule, the Eagles played well in a trip to the Bay Area with its two defeats coming to a pair of nationally-ranked teams.
Following a couple tight sets in a 25-13, 25-23, 29-27 road loss to No. 25 Saint Mary's, the Eagles rallied to beat San Jose State 21-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-20.
Eastern then took 19-12 and 18-12 leads in the first and third sets, respectively, before falling on the road to California, currently ranked 13th, by 25-22, 25-19, 25-20 scores.
The previous weekend, EWU defeated opponents from Conference USA (Houston) and the Western Athletic Conference (Nevada) by 3-1 scores before battling No. 18 Arizona, the host of the Marriott University Park Wildcat Classic, in an exciting four-set affair the undefeated Wildcats took 3-1.
The Eagles opened their season on Aug. 28 with a 3-1 defeat of Missouri State. The Bears had played in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Eastern's two losses that weekend came to teams that played in the 2008 NCAAs, No. 14 Oregon and San Francisco.
Coviare Named to All-Oregon Classic Team
Chenoa Coviare was rewarded for at the Oregon Classic with All-Tournament honors.
In the three matches played from Aug. 28-29, she hit .365 (25-6-52) and contributed 1.20 blocks and 0.70 digs per set.
Coviare helped Eastern to a 3-1 win over Missouri State and tough-fought losses to No. 14 Oregon and San Francisco.
Coviare and Hamilton Named All-Tourney
For the second weekend in a row, Chenoa Coviare was named to an all-tournament team, this time at the Marriott University Park Wildcat Classic. She was joined on the squad by Ashley Hamilton.
Coviare had 2.25 kills and 0.83 blocks per set in Eastern's three matches.
Arizona transfer Hamilton played well in her old stomping grounds, averaging 6.58 assists per set and hitting at a .296 clip (12-4-27).
The talented duo helped the Eagles to an impressive 2-1 showing at the tournament, which included 3-1 wins over Houston and Nevada and a good showing in a 3-1 loss to host and currently No. 18 Arizona.
Coviare and Hills Earn Tourney Honors
After helping the Eagles to a second-place showing at the Molten/Hilton Garden Inn Classic, Chenoa Coviare and Hayley Hills earned All-Tournament honors.
In the two matches, a 3-1 win over San Jose State and a 3-0 loss to host and 13th-ranked California, Coviare hit at a .343 clip (19-7-35) to go with 1.43 blocks per set.
Hills had a team-high 3.00 kills per set and contributed 2.14 digs and 0.29 blocks per set.