Nov. 24, 2008
Eastern Washington University volleyball player Hayley Hills was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week after helping the Eagles to a 3-1 road win over Sacramento State to help the Eagles win the outright regular-season crown. The award is her fourth of the season, the first time that has been accomplished by an Eagle since Kim Exner earned it four times in 1998.
In fact, 2008 marks the first year the Eagles as a team have earned Big Sky POW accolades four times in a single season since the 2004 campaign, when Lizzy Mellor won it twice and Deanna Albers and Ashley Jensen did so once apiece.
In Eastern’s lone match of the week, Hills helped the Eagles to an exciting 25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 36-34 road victory over the six-time defending Big Sky champions Sacramento State. That victory clinched at least a share of the regular-season title, which the Eagles won outright the next night when the Hornets dominated Portland State 25-18, 25-20, 25-12.
In that win over the Hornets, Hills had 25 kills and hit .352 (25-6-54), a very impressive average considering the 54 swings she took. She also contributed 13 assists, three blocks, three assists and a service ace to Eastern’s pivotal win. Her 25th putaway snapped a 34-34 tie late in the fourth set, while her sixth earned the junior entry into the prestigious 1,000-kill club, something only seven previous Eagles could lay claim.
The outside hitter is leading the Big Sky in kills per set (4.56), an average that is on pace to rank as the third-best in Eagle history. She currently ranks eighth nationally in 2008 among all NCAA Division I players in that statistical category.
Eastern Washington has now won 11-of-12 contests and is 17-10 overall, 12-4 in Big Sky play.
Hills and the Eagles next play at 5:30 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 28) against either Montana (14-12, 10-6 BSC) or Weber State (20-12, 9-7 BSC) in a Big Sky semifinal. Portland State, by virtue of its 2007 regular-season title, plays host to the Big Sky Championship this year (EWU will host the 2009 event).