VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN FIVE SETS TO EASTERN WASHINGTON ON SENIOR NIGHT
CHENEY, Wash. - Four Eastern Washington players had double figures in kills, led by Chenoa Coviare’s team-best 19 as the Eagles overcame a 2-0 deficit and beat Sacramento State, 3-2 (19-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-13), in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Colberg Court.
The match was the regular season finale for both teams as Eastern Washington will be the No. 2 seed for the Big Sky Tournament next week. Sacramento State will not be making a trip to the Big Sky Tournament for the first time since joining the league in 1996, and concluded the season with a 16-16 overall record and a 6-10 mark in the Big Sky.
Sacramento State finished in sixth place in the league standings, trailing Portland State (14-2), Eastern Washington (12-4), Northern Colorado (12-4), Montana (10-6) and Idaho State (7-9). Different from years past when the top six teams made the league’s postseason event, the Big Sky switched formats this season and are now only taking the top four teams to the championship.
Despite the sixth place finish, Sacramento State still made big strides from last season’s team which finished the year 10-23 and endured a major rebuilding process. This year’s squad improved that mark by six wins and will return all but three players next season.
“I felt like we could have played better volleyball down the final stretch of the season, but I was happy with tonight’s effort,” Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. “We’ve improved immensely from last year in terms of the volleyball we are playing. Overall, I’m happy with our improvement during the season, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
In tonight’s fifth set, Sacramento State raced out to a 5-2 lead but Eastern Washington immediately responded with a 5-0 run to take a 7-5 lead. The Eagles never trailed again as the Hornets closed to within one point on seven different occasions but could never tie the score.
Eastern Washington hit .211 while limiting Sacramento State to a .175 hitting percentage. After hitting .220 and .343 over the first two sets (both wins), the Hornets hit .073, .111 and .125, respectively, during the final three sets.
The Hornets were led by senior Desiree Hoyum’s 20 kills and 15 digs, while sophomore Kelsey Elston (11 kills, five blocks, team-best .360 hitting percentage) and freshman Janelle Currey (15 kills, 20 blocks) also chipped in double figures in kills. Senior setter Melissa Melcher added 51 assists and seven digs, sophomore Anna Schoener matched her career high with seven blocks and junior Maddison Thivierge had seven kills and five blocks.
For Eastern Washington, Coviare led the way, finishing with 19 kills, a match-best 10 blocks and a .385 hitting percentage. Hayley Hills had four of her 11 kills in the fifth set and Sara Todorovich added 10 kills, four blocks and a .412 hitting percentage. Hills had four of Eastern Washington’s seven kills in the decisive fifth set. The Eagles’ JaNae Mortensen led all players with 23 digs.
Tonight marked the final match in the careers of Sacramento State seniors Hoyum, Melcher and Emily Trudgeon. Both Hoyum and Melcher are fourth-year seniors and team co-captains while Trudgeon was playing in her first and only season with the Green and Gold after transferring from Henderson State.
Sacramento State was playing this year with a roster that included 10 underclassmen, including four freshmen and six sophomores. The Hornets will return 11 players in 2010 as the team looks to regain the edge that has seen the program win 11 Big Sky regular season and/or tournament championships over the last 13 seasons (1996-07).