Eagles Aim for First Conference Road Victory at Portland State
After a challenging week, Eastern hopes to rebound against Vikings in "Dam Cup" matchup
With only one match on tap this weekend, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team hopes to make it count, as it travels to Portland State to take on the Vikings on Saturday (Oct. 9) at 7 p.m. The Eagles will be looking for their first conference road victory of the season when it battles the No. 2 team in the conference at the Peter W. Stott Center. Saturday's match between the Eagles and Vikings will also mark the first volleyball event of the newly created "Dam Cup" rivalry.
The Eagles are coming off a taxing week, in which the team fell in four sets to Sacramento State (Oct. 1), and then returned home for a non-conference matchup with Seattle that had an even less favorable result. The Redhawks swept Eastern in three quick sets after the Eagles conceded 27 points off unforced errors.
Eastern will look to bounce back when it returns to Big Sky action this weekend against Portland State, who currently owns the second-best record in the league at 4-1. Eastern will enter the contest with a 2-3 overall record in the BSC, which ties for seventh in the league standings. Following Eastern's loss on Colberg Court in Sacramento, Calif., PSU suffered the same fate the next night (Oct. 2), when it dropped its first conference match of the season to the Hornets in a tight five-set battle.
Eastern leads the all-time series with Portland State at 26-20, while holding a 23-5 edge in the Big Sky series. Portland State swept the regular-season meetings in 2009, with a 3-1 victory in Cheney and 3-0 upset in Portland, but that was the first time the Vikings had won two regular-season matches against the Eagles since the 1985 season when both teams were part of the Mountain West Conference.
In 2008, EWU faced PSU three times, as the teams battled in the Big Sky championship match on Nov. 29 in Portland, Ore. Despite a sweep of the series during the regular season, Eastern dropped its post-season matchup with the Vikings (3-1), which kept the Eagles from advancing to the NCAAs for the first time since 2001. In the last five seasons, the Eagles have recorded a 1-5 record when playing at the Peter W. Stott Center.
In order to have success on PSU's home court this year, the Eagles will have to find a way to shut down the Viking's star hitter in Whitney Phillips. The senior ranks sixth in the nation in kills (4.98/set) and seventh in points (5.53/set), and has hit in double-digits in 14 of 15 matches this season. She has also recorded nine double-doubles, which ranks second in the Big Sky.
The Eagles, however, may have an answer for Phillips, as the team boasts the third-best blocking statistics in the conference. Since the start of Big Sky play on Sept. 17, the Eagles have averaged 2.57 blocks per set, which includes double-digit team blocks in five of its last seven contests. Eastern turned in its best blocking performance of the year and the second-best recorded in the Big Sky against Sac State, as it tallied 15 total blocks. Senior Chenoa Coviare contributed to 11 of those 15 blocks, which marked a season-high for the Medford, Ore., native. In Big Sky contests, Coviare ranks second in blocks per set at 2.57. Her overall season average of 1.99 per set is fourth in the league and among the top 100 in the nation.
THE DAM CUP - The Eastern Washington University Eagles and the Portland State University Vikings will begin a five-sport rivalry cup called The Dam Cup in 2010-11. The Dam Cup will celebrate the friendly rivalry between the states of Oregon and Washington within the Big Sky Conference. The so-named rivalry refers to the four dams linking Oregon and Washington that one passes on the 339-mile drive from the Portland State campus to the Eastern Washington campus. Located along the Columbia River, they are Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, The John Day Dam and the McNary Dam.
The five sports competing for the cup are football, women's soccer, women's volleyball, women's basketball and men's basketball. The Dam Cup is based on a point system, with points only rewarded for regular season contests. Each volleyball match between the Eagles and Portland State are worth two points apiece for a total of four points possible toward the school's total for the 2010-11 season.
Eagle News & Notes
Eagles Excel in Conference Play – Since starting Big Sky action on Sept. 17, the Eagles have turned in some of their best volleyball all season. After the first three weeks of conference play, Eastern ranks among the top five in the league in six different categories. The Eagles are third in digs (15.82/set) and blocks (2.57/set), fourth in assists (11.95/set) and kills (12.73/set) and fifth in hitting percentage (.189) and opponent hitting percentage (.170). Individually, Chenoa Coviare is tied for the best hitting percentage in the confernce at .411 (65-12-129). She is second in blocks at 1.50 per set and ninth in kills at 2.95 per set. Senior Alysha Cook is sixth in the blocking category with 1.19 per set and 10th overall in hitting percentage (.254). Lindsey Petroni is second in digs, as she has averaged 4.91 per set., while Lindsay Niemeier ranks seventh among setters with an 8.27 assists per set average. Currently, the Eagles are tied for seventh in the BSC with a 2-3 record.
Eagles Turn in Top Performances in BSC – Despite a less than favorable overall record to date (3-12), 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 best blocking performance in the Big Sky with her 11 blocks in Eastern's narrow loss to Sacramento State (Oct. 1). The Eagles lead in the other defensive category as well, thanks to Lindsey Petroni's 32 pickups against Montana (Sept. 17). Setters Lindsay Niemeier and Laney Brown rank second and fourth on the assists match high list, with Niemeier recording 57 against Montana (Sept. 17) and Brown 52 versus Seattle (Aug. 28).
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. Head Coach Miles Kydd on Coviare: "I think Chenoa and Whitney Phillips of Portland State are the two most dominant athletes in our conference. Chenoa has the athletic ability to change a match, which is exactly what she did on both Friday (Sept. 24) and Saturday (Sept. 25) night. If you look at the tape from those contests, there are stretches in the fourth game of both matches where she completely took over. The opposition could not get a ball by her. She is a great player. Determined and talented."
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.
Double-Double Trouble - So far this season, five different Eagles have recorded double-doubles, while four of those players have registered two or more. Sophomore Shelby Puckett leads the team with four in the 2010 campaign. She tallied a season-high 21 kills and 19 digs against Seattle (Aug. 28), and then recorded a double-double in back-to-back outings on Sept. 10, as she had 13 kills and 11 digs versus Cal Poly and 12 kills and 13 digs at Idaho. In Eastern's Big Sky opener versus Montana (Sept. 17), Puckett recorded 11 kills and 18 digs. Jacque Brown tallied back-to-back double-doubles in the Treasure State, as she had 10 kills and 13 digs versus Montana (Sept. 17) and 10 kills and 12 digs against Montana State (Sept. 19). She nabbed her third double-double of the season in Eastern's five-set victory over Weber State (Sept. 25), as she had 12 kills and a season-high 16 digs. Senior Chenoa Coviare and redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier has accomplished the feat twice this year. Coviare tallied 11 kills and 10 blocks in Eastern's home opener versus Idaho State (Sept. 24) and had 15 kills and a season-high 11 blocks in EWU's four-set battle with Sacramento State (Oct1. 1). Niemeier picked up 17 assists and 13 digs versus Mercer (Aug. 27) and 22 assists and 10 digs versus Cal Poly (Sept. 10). Laney Brown has also earned one double-double this season when she recorded 52 assists and 11 digs in the five-set thriller at Seattle (Aug. 28) and Coviare
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 26 total. She averages 0.84 blocks per set, which ranks eighth 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 .273 (46-16-110) is the best on the squad, while ranking sixth 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 10 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. 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 31 votes in the Sept. 6 poll.
Eastern Picked Fourth in BSC Preseason Poll - For the third-straight year, the Eastern Washington volleyball squad was ranked among the top four teams in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches' Poll. Eastern was picked fourth this season, behind co-favorites Portland State and Montana, and 2009 BSC Tournament Champion Northern Colorado, who came in third in the voting. EWU has made 14 consecutive appearances in the BSC tournament, including two title runs in 1989 and 2001. Last year, the team tied for second overall in the regular season with a record of 12-4.
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.
Live Coverage of 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 match versus Portland State. 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).