Eagles Prepare for Big Sky Battle with Sac State and Rematch with Non-Conference Foe Seattle
Eagles look to turn their luck on the road with a victory against Hornets on Friday, Oct. 1
After an undefeated weekend of Big Sky action on Reese Court, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will hit the road for another conference matchup with the Hornets of Sacramento State on Friday (Oct. 1) at 7 p.m. The Eagles will then have a quick turnaround, as it returns to Cheney for a non-conference game with Seattle on Monday (Oct. 4) at 7 p.m.
Eastern evened its conference record at 2-2 after two impressive performances against Idaho State (3-1) and Weber State (3-2) on Sept. 24 and 25, respectively. In the two matches played on Reese Court last weekend, the Eagles averaged a .252 attack percentage, which included 112 kills and only 40 errors on its 286 total attempts. The team also recorded 24.5 total blocks, and had four players with 20+ kills and three others with 20 or more digs.
The Eagles will look to carry that momentum into the match at Sacramento State, which would mark Eastern's first win on the road since its initial game of the 2010 season when EWU beat Mercer 3-0 in Seattle, Wash. Eastern dropped its first two Big Sky road matches against Montana and Montana State, but the meeting in Missoula was a tight affair, as it went to five sets, with the Grizzlies barely escaping with a 15-13 decision in the fifth.
"We are not intimated about going on the road," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "We dropped our first two conference road games, but the match at Montana was very close and certainly gave us some confidence, as we were down 2-0 and were able to come back and force a fifth set at their place. Our goal, at least since I have been here, is to at least split on the road. Right now we are two behind, so we need to catch up and hope to start with a win this weekend."
The Hornets will be hungry for their first conference victory overall, after having dropped its initial two matchups with Northern Colorado (3-1) and Northern Arizona (3-0). Eastern has swept the regular-season series with the Hornets in the past two seasons, including a tight five-set battle in Sacramento in 2009 that saw Eastern come back from a 2-0 deficit to take the match in five. Prior to the 2008 season, Sac State had topped Eastern in nine-consecutive meetings, dating back to Nov. 20, 2004. The all-time series with the Eagles and Hornets stands at 26-12, in favor of Sac State.
After the trip to the Golden State, Eastern will return home for a highly-anticipated rematch with the Redhawks of Seattle University. The Eagles suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Redhawks earlier in the season when SU outlasted EWU in five sets on Aug. 28 as part of The Invitational at Seattle, Wash. Tied at 1-1 coming out of the break in that battle, the Eagles looked as though they would roll to victory with their dominating 25-13 victory in the third set. However, SU responded, taking the fourth set 25-17 and the fifth by a narrow 15-13 margin.
Sophomore Shelby Puckett had her best match of the season versus Seattle, as she recorded a career-high 21 kills and only four errors in her 41 attempts. She also picked up 19 digs and contributed four assists. Senior Chenoa Coviare, who was recently tabbed as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, was also strong versus the Redhawks, tallying 12 kills and six blocks, while redshirt-freshman Ashley Wright also chipped in 12 kills and a season-high three blocks in that match.
Seattle junior Cristin Richards tallied 22 kills in the Aug. 28 meeting, while also picking up 15 digs. Richards has been SU's main offensive threat in the 2010 season, as she averages 4.09 kills per set and has recorded 290 total kills. She is also second on the team in digs with a 2.68 digs per set average. Senior setter Jamie Melleis is also essential to the Redhawks' offensive success, as she averages 10.04 assists per set, and has tallied 21 kills on the season.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW…Sophomore Shelby Puckett leads the team in total kills with 138 on the season. She averages 2.82 kills per set and has hit in double-digits in six of the last eight contests. Puckett has also contributed 125 total digs (2.55 dps), which ranks third on the team. After sitting the first seven matches of the season due to injury, senior Alysha Cook returned to the lineup during the Nike Cougar Challenge Sept. 9-10 in Pullman, Wash. Since her return, Cook has recorded 68 total kills and 21 blocks. She posted a career-high 29 kills on .436 hitting efficiency in Eastern's Big Sky opener at Montana on Sept. 17. Middle blockers Chenoa Coviare and Allison Reinstein are taking care of business at the net, as those two players alone have contributed to 79 of Eastern's 90 blocks this season. Coviare is also second on the squad in kills with 114 total and a 2.33 kills per set average. She was recently named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week (Sept. 27), after she recorded an impressive .477 (23-2-47) attack percentage in Eastern's home openers versus Idaho State and Weber State. Coviare also had a team-leading 16 total blocks in the two contests combined. Sophomore Laney Brown and redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier have split the setting duties this season, with Niemeier averaging 6.75 assists per set, and Brown at 4.70. Niemeier has recorded 30+ assists in four-consecutive outings, and has tallied 72 total digs this season, which ranks fourth on the team. In the backcourt, junior libero Lindsey Petroni leads the squad with 164 total digs and a 3.74 digs per set average. She picked up 32 digs against Montana, which was just one shy of her career record and is tied for the best defensive performance for any player in the conference thus far in the season. Senior captain Jacque Brown has also been busy in the back court, as she has tallied 125 total digs, while averaging 2.55 digs per set.
Coviare Lays Claim to Weekly Conference Honors – Senior Chenoa Coviare was rewarded for her stellar performances in Eastern's home openers versus Idaho State (Sept. 24) and Weber State (Sept. 25), as she was tabbed as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, announced Monday (Sept. 27) by the league office. 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 in the team's last 12 outings. In the two games played at Reese Court over the weekend, 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 pivotal 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 both Friday and Saturday 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.
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 weeks of conference play, Eastern ranks among the top five in the league in five different categories. The Eagles are second in assists (12.39/set), third in hitting percentage (.209), kills (13.28/set) and digs (15.61/set) and fourth in blocks (2.31/set). Individually, Chenoa Coviare ranks second in hitting percentage at .418 (50-9-98) and fourth in blocks at 1.22 per set. Lindsey Petroni is second in digs, as she has averaged 4.89 per set, while Alysha Cook is eighth in kills at 3.06 per set. Lindsay Niemeier ranks sixth among setters with an 8.94 assists per set average. Currently, the Eagles are in fifth in the BSC with a 2-2 record.
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.
Double-Double Trouble - So far this season, five different Eagles have recorded double-doubles, while three 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. Redshirt-freshman Lindsay Niemeier has accomplished the feat twice this year, as she picked up 17 assists and 13 digs versus Mercer (Aug. 27) and 22 assists and 10 digs versus Cal Poly (Sept. 10). Laney Brown and Chenoa Coviare have each earned one double-double this season, as Brown recorded 52 assists and 11 digs in the five-set thriller at Seattle (Aug. 28) and Coviare tallied 11 kills and 10 blocks in Eastern's home opener versus Idaho State (Sept. 24).
Eagles Turn in Top Performances in BSC – Despite a less than favorable overall record to date (3-10), 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 is tied for the best blocking performance in the Big Sky with her 10 blocks in Eastern's 3-1 victory over Idaho State (Sept. 24). 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 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.
Coviare Chases Record - So far in her career, Chenoa Coviare has tallied 415 total blocks, which ranks fifth on EWU's all-time records list. Last season alone, she recorded a team-leading 144 blocks, which was the fourth-best single-season performance in program history. If Chenoa can continue on that track during her senior year, she will become the all-time leading blocker in Eastern history. With 48 blocks already recorded this season, she needs only 92 more to nab the record outright!
Freshmen Force - Eastern's 2010 lineup features five talented athletes who had never played in a collegiate volleyball match before this season. Redshirt-freshmen Lindsay Niemeier and Ashley Wright, and true freshmen Tyler Calles, Celeste Crosby and Esther Warren have all seen significant action this year. Niemeier has been the starting setter for Eastern in ten of their 13 matches, tallying 297 total assists and 72 digs. She ranks eighth in the BSC in assists per set at 6.75 and has had four-consecutive outings with 30+ assists. Wright and Warren, who hit on the left side, have combined for 54 kills and 22 blocks, while Calles and Crosby provide depth in the back court. Calles had a breakout performance against Idaho (Sept. 10), when she tallied a team-leading 23 digs, while Crosby stepped up in Eastern's home openers on Sept. 24 and 25, recording nine digs and one pivotal service ace.
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.
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.
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 Sacramento 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).