After an outstanding all-around effort in Eastern’s pair of road wins, senior setter recognized for first time in her career
Following a successful weekend of Big Sky action, in which the Eastern Washington University volleyball team won two matches on the road, senior Laney Brown was named Big Sky Player of the Week, announced Monday (Nov. 5) by the league office. This is the first-career weekly honor for the 5-7 setter out of Waterville, Wash.
Averaging 13.25 assists, 2.88 digs and tallying nine kills on a .421 clip, Brown propelled EWU to back-to-back wins against Northern Arizona and Southern Utah - its first road wins of the entire 2012 campaign.
“We are ecstatic for Laney,” said EWU head coach Lisa Westlake. “She is peaking at the right time, which sounds funny because it’s near the end of our season. But as far as being a senior, she has shown so much growth as a player. Her location has become more consistent, her decision-making has improved, and we have seen a major change in her emotional control as a leader on the court. It is nice to see Laney recognized for that because the whole time she’s been at Eastern, she has been in a 6-2 offense and never had the opportunity to really shine.”
In one of the most exciting Big Sky matches of the year, the Eagles upset third-ranked NAU, 3-2, and then swept Southern Utah two days later in dominant fashion. In Flagstaff, EWU outlasted the Jacks through 15 ties and six lead changes in the fifth set. In Cedar City, EWU rallied from a 24-20 deficit in the third, saving six set points, to win it, 29-27.
In the two matches combined, Eastern hit .285 as a team – significantly better than its .139 average from the previous 14 conference matches. The Eagles had 131 total kills, which was 33 more kills than their two opponents.
The Eagles saw freshman outside hitter Allie Schumacher break the school’s all-time single-match kills record with 35 on a .397 attack percentage against NAU, and saw senior outside hitter Cora Kellerman post back-to-back double-doubles with a combined 32 kills on .321 hitting – a season-best for the veteran. In addition, Eastern’s starting middle hitters contributed 31 kills on a .256 clip.
The common denominator in this thriving offense -- Laney Brown. Running a full-time 5-1 offense for the first time in her career, Brown had 106 total assists over the weekend for an average of 13.25 assists per set – almost four more than her season average of 9.36. She also tallied nine kills of her own with just one single error for a sizzling .421 attack percentage.
The 5-7 setter was not only busy orchestrating the offense for EWU, but was active on the defensive end as well, picking up 23 digs (2.88/set) and two blocks. She was also flawless from behind the service line, without a single error in 27 serves. Brown played every single rotation in both matches.
Her performance on Thursday (Nov. 1) against the Lumberjacks was particularly unforgettable with a career-high 67 assists – the most by any Big Sky player in a single match this season! She also posted a career-high six kills, to go along with 14 digs for her seventh double-double of the year.
In the nail-biting fifth set that had 15 ties and six lead changes, Brown delivered the match-winning dump to finally seal a 23-21 victory.
In Saturday’s outing at SUU, Brown was one dig shy of another double-double, as she tallied 39 assists, nine digs and had three kills.
This success has all come after recovering from an early-season injury that had Brown sidelined for the first eight matches of the year.