November 18, 2006

Eagle Volleyball Drops Big Sky Championship to Sacramento State

Nov. 18, 2006

Final Stats

The Eastern Washington University volleyball squad (20-9) saw its season finally come to an end on Saturday night (Nov. 18) with a 30-18, 30-25, 22-30, 30-21 loss to Sacramento State (30-5) in the Big Sky Conference championship match. The match took place at the Hornets Nest by virtue of Sac State's regular-season title. The Eagles were seeded third in the tournament.

"I'm not focusing on the loss," head coach Wade Benson said. "I'm focusing on the long journey we had this year that was unbelievable. I'm very proud of our program. We made an incredible run at the end that fell a little bit short. We played with a lot of heart tonight, but did not play up to a level to win a championship. I'm proud of our 101 digs; everyone gave their best passionate effort out there.

"We have a lot of positive things to look forward to in the future the way this team held up the Eastern Washington tradition of getting to the finals and finishing strong. These kids can hold their heads up and I'm real proud of the seniors. I'm going to miss them."

Eastern Washington completed a remarkable season, which saw the Eagles rebound from a 0-5 Big Sky start to finish 10-6 and place third in the final regular-season standings. Eastern has now won 20 matches in nine of the past 10 seasons and have finished third or higher in the final regular-season standings for the 11th consecutive season. The Eagles won 13 of their last 15 contests.

Named to the All-Big Sky Tournament Team from Eastern Washington were Page and Webster.

Sacramento State has earned its most wins since the 1995 campaign. The Hornets will play in the NCAA Tournament, which begins on Nov. 30, riding a seven-match winning streak and a hot stretch of 18 wins in 19 contests.

This marks the seventh straight year the two teams have played for the Big Sky title.

The Eagles as a team recorded 101 digs, setting a season high (previously at 89 versus Portland State on Oct. 14). They were led by Mandy Daniels, who had 30 to come just two shy of the Big Sky Tournament record for digs in a four-game match. That total is also the most recorded by an Eagle in 2006. Four other players also had double-digit dig totals: Addie Webster (24), Brittney Page (15), Chrystal Johnson (12) and Julia Reis (10).

Chelsea Ross once again led the Eagles in hitting percentage, hitting .333 (5-1-12). Kill leaders included Johnson (18), Page (15) and Webster (12). Amanda Yausie contributed 42 assists, while Kerri Beck had six blocks.

The first game started out extremely close, as the first two-point lead for either team was 9-7 Sacramento State. At that point, however, the Hornets pulled away, using a 6-1 run for a 12-8 lead and finishing off their win with a 7-1 run.

In a tournament filled of close games for the Eagles, game two was more of the same. Neither team would be able to grab more than a three-point advantage until near the end, when Sacramento State pulled away with an 8-2 run for a 24-20 advantage. The lead got as high as five at 28-23, 29-24 and the final of 30-25.

The Eagles were fired up coming out of the locker room, determined not to go down quietly and grabbed a commanding 9-2 lead. A 8-2 run gave Eastern a 17-6 advantage and its lead would get as high as 12 on three occasions: 21-9, 22-10 and 23-11.

Game four was close early, as well, as the first three-point lead was Sacramento State's at 15-12. The Hornets then started pulling away and went up by seven, 24-17, before a 4-1 Eagle run cut their deficit to 25-21. At the point, the Hornets put away the contest with four straight points.

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