Cheney, Wash. – The Eastern Washington University volleyball team took significant steps in 2015 towards its reestablishment as one of the Big Sky Conference's premier programs, highlighted by a return to the Big Sky Tournament.
Eastern had one of its best seasons in recent memory this past year, winning 14 games, good for its most victories in a season since 2009 when it notched 18 wins. The Eagles also won nine Big Sky games, the most in a campaign since 2011 when they recorded nine league victories. EWU's 2015 season culminated in a return to the Big Sky Tournament, snapping a four-year drought and placing the program back among the conference's best.
EWU won eight straight games from Sept. 17 to Oct. 17, the program's longest stretch of victories since it tallied eight consecutive wins in 2007. The Eagles also won seven straight conference games to start league play, good for their longest Big Sky winning streak since 2007 when they won seven matches. Eastern's 7-0 start to conference play was its best since 2003 when it opened its league slate with an 11-0 mark.
Eastern was particularly good at home this past season, winning six consecutive games from Sept. 17 to Oct. 29, good for its longest stretch of wins at Reese Court since 2009. The Eagles' 7-2 record in Cheney was its best home winning percentage since going 9-0 back in 2008.
Head coach Michael King, who had been guiding the Eagles on an interim basis since the start of Big Sky play, assumed that role on a permanent basis in late October. His appointment followed the announcement that long-time head coach Wade Benson would be stepping down from his post at the conclusion of EWU's nonconference slate, citing the fatigue associated with travel and leading an NCAA DI volleyball program.
Senior Allie Schumacher earned First Team All-Big Sky honors, becoming the first Eagle to receive first-team accolades since 2011. She recorded her 1,000th career kill this past season and finished her career ranked eighth all-time in the program's 34-year NCAA Division I history with 1,013 career kills.
Like Schumacher, senior Ryann Ensrud put an impressive cap on a standout four-year career, notching her 1,000th career dig. She concluded her EWU career ranked sixth all-time in the program's NCAA DI era with 1,171 career digs while her career average of 3.16 digs per set ranks ninth.
The Eagles say goodbye to Schumacher and Ensrud along with seniors Alexis Wesley and Ana Jakovljevic, but return 15 players from this year's team, including starters in sophomores Nicole Rigoni and Chloe Weber and freshman Jessica Gilbert.