September 25, 2010

Eastern Knocks Off Weber State in Five-Set Thriller

Eagles come from behind to win second-straight Big Sky match

With the help of nearly every player on its roster, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team claimed its second-straight Big Sky victory, as it outlasted Weber State 3-2 (25-15, 17-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-6) on Saturday (Sept. 25) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles improve their overall mark to 3-10, while evening their Big Sky record at 2-2. Weber State drops to 2-13 on the season and 0-4 in league play.

The Eagles won the first set handily, but dropped sets two and three, thus putting themselves in a must-win situation for the fourth set. Weber State jumped out to an early 15-11 lead in the fourth, which forced EWU head coach Miles Kydd to call a timeout. Eastern was able to score two quick points coming out of the break thanks to a missed serve by WSU and a powerful kill off the hand of senior Chenoa Coviare. The two teams then traded points until back-to-back kills by WSU's Shanae Langston and Piper Wahlin gave the visiting team a two-point advantage at 23-21. Redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright was able to slam home an attack on the next play, which sparked a four-point run by the Eagles to close out the set. Sophomore Shelby Puckett scored the final two points for EWU with two commanding kills.

Coviare scored five of Eastern's first seven points to start the fifth set, as she tallied three quick kills and two blocks to give EWU a 7-2 advantage. Weber State pulled within four at 8-4, but that would be the closest the Wildcats would get, as Eastern rattled off five kills to set up match point at 14-6. On the final point, WSU's Wahlin went up for strong left-side attack, but senior Alysha Cook was in perfect position, as she made an emphatic solo block to seal the victory for EWU.

"It was great to get a come-from-behind win," said Kydd. "The fourth set of this match was the first time all season we have been behind like that and were able to fight our way back. I was also very proud of the way we handled ourselves in the fifth game. We went out and we were aggressive and assertive, and did not back down. We had been in that same situation against Montana, where we were down 2-0 and then pulled our way back to 2-2, but in that game, we were passive in the fifth set. We didn't do that tonight."

Senior captain Jacque Brown recorded her third double-double of the season, as she had 12 kills and a season-high 16 digs. She made only four errors in her 32 attempts for a season-high .250 attack percentage. She also contributed two service aces, and was steady behind the line during the fourth set when she had three strong serves to close out the crucial set.

For the second match in a row, Coviare led the team in hitting efficiency, as the Medford, Ore., native had 12 kills and only one error in her 25 attempts. Coviare also added a team-leading six blocks, four of which came between the pivotal fourth and five sets.

Puckett also came through in the clutch, as she made only one error on offense between the fourth and fifth sets. Puckett finished the night with a team-leading 16 kills, while also picking up nine digs and two blocks. Cook tallied eight kills and two blocks, while Wright tied her season-high in blocks with three. Setters Lindsay Niemeier and Laney Brown tallied 30 and 19 assists, respectively, while every player who entered the match for Eastern had at least one dig. Junior Lindsey Petroni had 16 pickups, marking her fifth-straight outing with double-digit digs.

"It was a whole group effort tonight," commended Kydd. "We had Chenoa [Coviare] digging from her position in the middle, Jacque played her best match of the year all-around and in the end, Alysha came through with some great blocking. It was good to see contributions across the board and see the players hang in there long enough to find a way to get the job done."

As a team, Eastern recorded a .253 attack percentage, which included eight kills and no errors in the dramatic rubber game. With the win, Eastern remains undefeated at home, after they topped Idaho State on Friday (Sept. 24) in the home opener of the 2010 season. In the last decade, the Eagles are 87-14 when playing at Reese Court.

"We are so grateful to play at Eastern," said Kydd. "We not only have the best venue, but also the best fans. You can talk to any team in the conference -- nobody wants to play here. Our fans give us such a boost – they are truly our home court advantage."

Eastern will travel to the Golden State for its next Big Sky contest, as it takes on the Hornets of Sacramento State on Friday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.

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