This Week in @EWUVolleyball
|at Northern Colorado||at North Dakota|
|Thursday, Nov. 12 - 6 p.m. PST||Saturday, Nov. 14 - 9 a.m. PST|
|Greeley, Colo. - Butler-Hancock Pavilion||Grand Forks, N.D. - Engelstad Center|
|Live Video | Live Stats||Live Video | Live Stats|
Cheney, Wash. – With a Big Sky Tournament berth already locked up, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will conclude its regular season this week with Big Sky Conference road matches at Northern Colorado and North Dakota.
EWU will square off with UNC this Thursday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. PST before facing UND on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 9 a.m. PST.
The Big Sky Tournament is set to begin with quarterfinal matches next Thursday, Nov. 19.
Despite having already secured a spot in the conference tournament, Eastern (14-11, 9-5 Big Sky) does not yet know what seed it will be, or where its headed, with two matches remaining. The Eagles are one of seven teams to clinch bids to this season's Big Sky Tournament and will be joined by Northern Arizona, Sacramento State, Idaho State, Idaho, Northern Colorado and North Dakota.
The final spot in the eight-team field will come down to either Southern Utah or Portland State. The Vikings need to win their final two matches and have the Thunderbirds lose twice in order to have a shot at making the tournament. The two squads will square off this Thursday in Cedar City, Utah.
The Big Sky's regular season champion will continue to serve as host of the league tournament like in years past. Northern Arizona is currently in the driver's seat, owning a two-game advantage over Sacramento State and Idaho State in the conference standings. NAU needs to win just one of its final two matches to clinch the conference title and send the tournament to Flagstaff, Ariz. The Lumberjacks play at home versus Sacramento State and Portland State this week.
With NAU, a member of the Big Sky's South Division, in prime position to claim the league title, the Big Sky Tournament's No. 2 seed will default to the winner of the North Division. As things stand currently, Idaho owns a one-game lead over Eastern thanks to its four-set win over the Eagles last Saturday, Nov. 7, in Moscow, Idaho. Northern Colorado also remains in the conversation for the No. 2 seed as it sits two games back of the Vandals with two matches left. Idaho flip-flops opponents with EWU this week, playing at North Dakota on Thursday before taking on UNC on Saturday.
The Eagles need to record a win over either Northern Colorado or North Dakota this week, and need Idaho to lose both of its matches, in order to finish atop the North Division standings and claim the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. It is possible that Eastern, Idaho and UNC finish with identical 10-6 league records. If that happens, each team would be 2-2 against the other two squads, so a tiebreaker of set wins divided by sets played would be used. In that scenario, EWU would own the best possible percentage of sets won divided by sets played, having already won 10 of 14 sets combined against Idaho and Northern Colorado.
Northern Colorado (12-15, 8-6 BSC) has been playing some of the best volleyball in the conference over the past few weeks, winning eight of its last 12 matches, including its last four contests. UNC ranks second in kills per set (13.93 k/s) and digs per set (16.20 d/s) in league matches while the Bears' Kendra Cunningham is averaging 3.12 kills per set in Big Sky play, good for ninth.
EWU swept Northern Colorado at Reese Court back on Saturday, Sept. 26, holding the Bears to a .115 hitting percentage. Freshman Jessica Gilbert and senior Alexis Wesley both notched nine kills in that match while sophomore Nicole Rigoni finished with a double-double of 26 assists and 12 digs.
North Dakota (19-12, 7-7 BSC) is 3-5 over its last eight matches and has lost its last three home contests. UND leads the conference in digs per set in league matches (17.16) while Faith Dooley ranks fifth among all players with an average of 1.27 blocks per set in Big Sky play.
Eastern beat North Dakota in straight sets in Cheney back on Thursday, Sept. 24, hitting .290 compared to UND's .157 clip. Gilbert led all players with 13 kills, adding four digs and two blocks while senior Allie Schumacher added 11 kills and nine digs.