Eastern looking to take one step closer to postseason play with a split with Northern Colorado and sweep of Northern Arizona in regular-season series
The Eastern Washington University volleyball team has an important week of Big Sky action ahead, as the team heads to Greeley, Colo., to take on the league-leading Bears on Thursday (Nov. 11), and then travels to Flagstaff, Ariz., for a showdown with Northern Arizona on Saturday (Nov. 13).
The Eagles are currently in sixth place in the BSC, but only one game separates them from the teams in third and fourth. Northern Colorado and Portland State have already punched their tickets to postseason play, as both teams have nearly flawless records at 12-1 and 11-2, respectively. Idaho State and Montana are tied for the No. 3 spot with a 7-6 record, while Sacramento State has a half-game lead on EWU with its 6-6 mark. With at least three games remaining on everyone's schedule, the race for the final two spots in the tournament is still wide open.
Eastern is coming off an emotional loss to the Vikings of Portland State, in which the team had a two-set lead on PSU, but faltered after the break and dropped the third, fourth and fifth sets to endure its seventh loss of the 2010 conference season. Eastern had 100 digs in the contest, which is the second-straight match the team has earned triple digits in that defensive category. During the contest, the Eagles lost their No. 1 blocker and most efficient hitter on the season, Chenoa Coviare. The senior from Medford, Ore., went down with a knee injury on the second play of the game, and will be out for the remainder of the 2010 season.
The marathon match against the Vikings was the seventh five-set affair of the season for EWU, six of which have come in Big Sky play. One of those six matches was against Northern Colorado, which Eastern will face in its first matchup of this week. In that initial meeting of the year between the Eagles and Bears, EWU won the first and third sets, and had a 5-2 edge on the Bears in the fifth set, but Northern Colorado scored 13 of the next 18 points to win the match.
Since the 2006 season, when the Bears became an official member of the Big Sky Conference, Eastern has tallied a 6-4 overall record against them. Only one of those four losses has come at the Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in Greeley. In 2009, the Eagles swept the regular-season series with UNC, while also they also took down the Bears on their home court in 2007 and 2006.
Eastern will play its final road match of the regular season on Saturday when it faces the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona, who are currently in seventh in the league standings with a 5-8 record. The Eagles blanked NAU in the first meeting of the 2010 season, holding the Lumberjacks to a.036 efficiency, which was the second-lowest attack percentage recorded by an Eagle opponent this season. Eastern on the other hand, hit at a .228 clip (45-16-127) in the contest. The team also amassed 13 blocks and 70 digs against the Lumberjacks.
In the last 24 years, Eastern has tallied a 13-11 record when playing the Lumberjacks in Flagstaff. The Eagles have won six of the last eight meetings at the Rolle Activity Center, but the two losses came in the most recent meetings in 2008 and 2009. The Eagles and Lumberjacks have endured 18 five-set matches against one another in the all-time series, nine of which have occurred at Rolle.
Eagle News & Notes
Coviare Suffers Season-Ending Injury – Senior middle blocker Chenoa Coviare had her final season with the Eagles cut short due to a knee injury suffered in the first minutes of the game against Portland State on Nov. 6. Coviare, a standout on the team for the last four seasons, will finish her EWU career as the fourth-leading blocker in Eastern history. She has tallied 470 total blocks in her career, including 103 this season. Coviare is also one of the elite few to eclipse 1,000 kills in her career, as she has amassed 1,012 total. Prior to the injury, Coviare was averaging 1.23 blocks per set in 2010, which ranks second in the Big Sky Conference and 37th in the nation. In league-only statistics, Coviare is No. 1 in blocks with 1.51 per set and ranks fourth in hitting percentage (.329) and eighth in points (3.58 per set).
Eagles Dip Deep - The EWU volleyball team has tallied triple-digit digs in back-to-back contests. In Eastern's five-set victory over Montana on Oct. 30, the team recorded a season-high 108 pickups. On Nov. 6 against Portland State, the Eags had 100 digs in five sets. In both of those matches, senior Jacque Brown and junior libero Lindsey Petroni had 20+ digs. Petroni led the team both nights with 29 pickups against UM and 26 against PSU. Brown had a career-high 24 against Montana, and then followed that performance with 22 against the Vikings. Three other Eagles set career-highs in digs in one or the other of the two matches. Ashley Wright had 12 against Montana, while setters Lindsay Niemeier and Laney Brown tallied 17 and 14 versus Portland State, respectively.
Sizzling Statistics – The Eagles are statistically among the top five teams in the league in five different categories. The team is second overall in blocks (2.69/set) and digs (16.40), while ranking third in opponent hitting percentage (.158), and fifth in assists (11.69/set) and kills (12.49). Individually, Chenoa Coviare leads the league in blocks (1.51/set), is fourth in hitting percentage (.329) and eighth in points (3.58/set). Senior Alysha Cook is eighth in the blocking category with 0.90 per set, while Lindsey Petroni is fourth in digs with 4.40 per set. Redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier ranks sixth among setters with 7.16 assists per set, while sophomore Laney Brown is ninth at 5.53 per set. Currently, the Eagles are sixth in the BSC standings with a 6-7 record.
EWU Home Attendance Highest in the Sky – Eastern Washington has the highest home attendance in the Big Sky Conference this season. In its eight matches played on Reese Court thus far into 2010, 6,305 total fans have come out to watch. EWU averages 788 fans per game, which is at least 300 more than any other school in the Big Sky. This fan support translates into supreme success for the Eags, as the team has earned a 116-20 overall record in games played on Reese Court in the last 14 years!
Eagle Endurance - Eastern Washington has played in six five-set matches during the 2010 Big Sky season, which is the most for any team in the conference. The Eagles have a 2-4 record in those marathon matches, with the two wins coming against Weber State and Montana. The Eagles have also lost to Weber State and Montana, as well as dropping a match to Northern Colorado and Portland State. Overall, Eastern has played in six five-set matches in 2010.
Eagles Turn in Top Performances in BSC – The EWU volleyball team has had several stellar individual performances that are among the top of the Big Sky Conference's "match highs." Senior Alysha Cook recorded a career-high 29 kills versus Montana (Sept. 17), which ranks third in the BSC for most kills in a match this season. Cook also ranks third in points scored in a single match, as she tallied 32.5 total in the five-set battle in Missoula. Senior Chenoa Coviare turned in the second-best blocking performance in the Big Sky with her 11 blocks in Eastern's narrow loss to Sacramento State (Oct. 1). In the other defensive category, Lindsey Petroni's 32 pickups against Montana (Sept. 17) and Northern Colorado (Oct. 16) are tied for the third-best mark in the BSC. Lindsay Niemeier ranks third the assists match high list with her 57 against Montana (Sept. 17).
Double-Double Trouble - So far this season, six different Eagles have recorded double-doubles. Senior captain Jacque Brown and redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier lead the way with five, while Sophomore Shelby Puckett follows with four. Sophomore setter Laney Brown and redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright have each earned three double-doubles in 2010, and Chenoa Coviare has two in her season stats (see complete notes packet for more details on the Eagle double-doubles).
Reinstein is Eastern's Scholar Athlete of the Month for September - Allison Reinstein was selected by the Eastern athletics department as its female Scholar-Athlete for the month of September. Reinstein, a native of Livermore, Calif., is pursuing a degree in visual communication design with a minor in business administration. Having just starter her senior year, Reinstein is on track to graduate after the Fall 2010 term, at which point she will enter graduate school at Eastern. Reinstein holds a cumulative GPA of 3.73 and has been named to the Academic All-Big Sky team for three consecutive years. The senior middle blocker has started 15 of Eastern's 16 contests in the 2010 campaign, and ranks first on the squad in attack percentage (.247) and second I total blocks (38). She has tallied 111 kills thus far in the season, and leads the team in service aces with 13. Reinstein turned in her best performance so far in the 2010 season at Idaho on Sept. 10, when she hammered 10 kills with only one error on 19 attempts. That offensive efficiency of .474 was the best recorded by an Eagle all season (of hitters who had 10 or more kills in a match).
Coviare Lays Claim to Weekly Conference Honors – Senior Chenoa Coviare was rewarded for her stellar performances in Eastern's home openers versus Idaho State and Weber State, as she was tabbed as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Sept. 27. The senior from Medford, Ore., played a pivotal role in helping EWU capture its first two victories of the 2010 Big Sky season, and its first wins since the team's first game of the 2010 campaign. In the two games played at Reese Court on Sept. 24 and 25, Coviare recorded a stunning .477 attack percentage with 23 total kills and only two errors in her 47 attempts. She was the only Eagle to hit above .400 on both nights, and averaged 2.56 kills per set in the nine sets she played. In addition to her offensive prowess, Coviare led the team at the net with 16 total blocks. She scored 31.5 total points, which was the most for any player on the squad. She earned her first double-double of the season in Eastern's 3-1 victory against Idaho State, as she recorded 11 kills and 10 blocks. Coviare's first block against the Bengals was the 400th of her career. In the dramatic five-set match against Weber State, Coviare had 12 kills and a team-leading six blocks, four of which came in the crucial fourth and fifth sets. She scored five of the first seven points for Eastern in the rubber game, after she rattled off three quick kills and back-to-back blocks. She also contributed three digs in that match.
Cook Makes Statement in Missoula – Senior right-side hitter Alysha Cook earned a new career record when she hammered 29 kills in Eastern's Big Sky opener against Montana on Sept. 17. Her previous career-high for kills was 19, which she recorded against Northern Colorado back in 2007. The Kennewick, Wash., native led all hitters in the match in Missoula, as she committed only four errors in her 51 attempts for a stunning .431 attack percentage. She also contributed a team-leading seven blocks, and also set a new career-record in digs with seven. Cook, who had to sit out the first six matches of the 2010 season due to injury, returned to the lineup on Sept. 9 when EWU faced the Cougars of Washington State.
Coviare Recognized for Strong Play in Pullman - Chenoa Coviare was named to the Nike Cougar Challenge All-Tournament Team for her efforts against Washington State and Cal Poly on Sept. 9 and 10, respectively. The senior from Medford, Ore., recorded 15 kills and six blocks in the two games played in Pullman, Wash. Coviare led the Eagles in the matchup with the Cougars, recording an impressive .350 attack percentage (10-3-20). She also picked up one block and one service ace in the exciting three-set match. As a team, Eastern tallied a season-high 10 blocks against the Cal Poly Mustangs, four of which came at the hands of Coviare. Coviare currently leads the team in blocks this season with 61 total. She averages 1.05 blocks per set, which ranks fourth in the Big Sky Conference.
Reinstein Named to All-Tournament Team - EWU senior middle blocker Allison Reinstein was one of six elite athletes named to the Pepperdine Asics Classic All-Tournament Team, announced Sept. 4 by the tournament officials. She recorded the best attack percentage on the Eagle squad at .219 (12-5-32), while also leading the team at the net with five total blocks. She averaged 1.33 kills per set over the weekend, and tallied three service aces. In total, Reinstein scored 18 points for her team, which was the second-best overall effort for an Eagle at the tournament in Malibu. Reinstein's overall season attack percentage of .257 (95-36-230) is the best on the squad, while ranking eighth in the Big Sky Conference.
Eagles Endure Stringent Schedule - Of the nine opponents appearing on Eastern's pre-Big Sky schedule, five of them had or are still appearing in AVCA Top 25 poll. In the Eagles first weekend of 2010 season, they faced one of the top 15 programs in the nation in Washington. The Huskies were ranked No. 8 at the time, and defeated EWU 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-13). At the Pepperdine Asics Classic, Eastern faced three teams who were all receiving votes in the second AVCA Top 25 poll of the season, released Sept. 6, while two of those teams are still receiving votes in the eighth poll, released Nov. 8. At the Nike Cougar Challenge Tournament, EWU played Washington State, who earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament last season and Cal Poly, who received 7 votes in the latest national poll.
Eagles Honored by AVCA - EWU earned the America Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for its triumphs in the classroom during the 2009-10 school year. The AVCA Team Academic Award honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that display excellence in the classroom during the year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 team GPA on a 5.0 scale. Head coach Miles Kydd's team compiled an impressive 3.54 cumulative GPA during the 2009-10 academic year. In addition to the national recognition, the Eags also distinguished themselves in the Big Sky Conference, as 11 members were named to the 2009 BSC All-Academic team; the most for any volleyball squad in the league.
Follow the Eags
If you are unable to cheer on the Eagles courtside, be sure to plant yourself in front of a computer, as all of Eastern Washington's Big Sky Conference matches will be available to view, free of charge, at www.bigskytv.org, including this weekend's matches versus Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona. In fact, you may watch any contest hosted by a Big Sky team throughout the season, not only in volleyball, but also in football and men's and women's basketball. You may also keep up to date on the Eagles at www.goeags.com, where news releases, rosters, schedules and statistics for all 14 EWU varsity athletics teams may be found. Live stats for all volleyball matches are also available via www.goeags.com (click the link within the volleyball schedule page). You can also follow the Eags on Facebook and Twitter!