SWX - Zags battle tough, lose to Eastern in 4 sets - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

College Volleyball

Zags battle tough, lose to Eastern in 4 sets

EWU's Hayley Hills recorded a match-high 40 attacks against Gonzaga (Photo: EWU Athletics) EWU's Hayley Hills recorded a match-high 40 attacks against Gonzaga (Photo: EWU Athletics)

by EWU Athletics & Gonzaga Athletics

CHENEY, Wash. - The Eastern Washington University volleyball team knocked off Gonzaga in a non-conference match on Tuesday evening by 24-26, 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 scores. The Eagles won their seventh straight contest and now look ahead to a showdown with Portland State on Friday.

"It took us a long time to execute our game plan tonight and giving up big runs - eight points, four points, five points - is a tough way to play," head coach Miles Kydd said. "But we turned it around (after the first set), and blocking came to our advantage. We started executing the game plan better and didn't make too many errors."

Eastern (11-5) had its second-highest hitting percentage of the season tonight, .287. In fact, four Eagles hit better than .300 in the contest, including Hayley Hills, who had the most attacks of any player on the court tonight, 40. She hit .325 in the contest (20-7-40) with 15 digs, and her 20 kills marked the fourth time this season she has hit that milestone.

Speaking of milestones, Hills is now just five away from tying for the second spot on Eastern Washington's career kills list. Her total of 1,263 trails Janelle Ruen, who tallied 1,268 from 1999-2002. The school mark is held by Kim Exner, who had 1,860 in her illustrious career from 1995-98.

Chenoa Coviare also had an outstanding match, contributing 12 kills and hitting .364 (12-4-22). She had a team-high six blocks in the contest. Sara Todorovich hit at a .444 clip in the contest (4-0-9), and Shelby Puckett had a .333 hitting percentage (6-1-15). Leading the squad in digs was Lindsey Petroni (16), while Ashley Hamilton had 36 assists.

Gonzaga had its two-match winning streak broken with the setback and are now 5-9 on the sason.  Eastern improved to 11-5.

The first set was full of spurts right from the outset, as the Eagles jumped out to a 6-0 lead only to see the visitors storm back with nine straight points to go up 9-6. Although EWU tied the set four times from there on out, the Eagles could not get over the hump, as Gonzaga (5-9) pulled away from a 24-24 tie with two straight points off a kill from Emily Johnson and a block by Caitlin Cozad. 

The second set was a different story, as EWU extended an 8-6 edge with a 10-3 run to take a commanding 18-9 lead. The third stanza was another tight one which saw Eastern Washington storm back from an 11-7 deficit to go up 19-17 courtesy of a 12-6 run and then kept the Bulldogs at bay the rest of the way.

In the deciding set, five straight points extended an 18-14 edge to 23-14 before EWU put away the match with a 25-18 victory.

Next up for Eastern Washington is a home Big Sky Conference match with Portland State (9-6, 4-1 BSC) at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Vikings and Eagles (5-0 BSC) battled for both league crowns last year, with EWU taking the regular-season title, and Portland State returning the favor in the Big Sky championship match.

Gonzaga resumes West Coast Conference play Thursday when it welcomes Pepperdine to the Martin Centre.  Match time is set for 7 p.m.

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