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Volleyball Tri-Match


No. 13 EAC Volleyball Team Brings 9-1 Record Into Tonight’s Tri-Match Opener

THATCHER – The Gila Monsters, ranked No. 13 in the nation, are riding the wave of a 7-match win streak and a 9-1 overall record into Guitteau Gymnasium tonight for their tri-match opener against Yavapai.

Eastern Arizona is coming off a successful tournament at Scottsdale College last weekend when it ran off four straight victories, including a five-set win over then No. 3 Salt Lake City.

Head coach Shari Kay is pleased with her team’s play thus far this season, but eyes the future.

“In practice, we’re getting better, but every time we play a match, we improve,” Kay said. “We have a long way to go. There is still so much to work on.”

Tonight’s match is just the second home match of the Gila Monsters’ season. With new alignment of the conference schedule, they will play on the Eastern Arizona campus just six times before the post season.

Division I teams in the 10-team ACCAC now play each other three times and each Division II team just once. This change has shortened the Gila Monster schedule and sets up a new playing format. The tri-match is something different, where three teams meet at a site and play each other once.

“It’s a whole new step,” Kay said. “We’ve never had to do this back-to-back, but the (pre-season) tournaments have helped us.”

Eastern Arizona hosts Yavapai tonight at 7 p.m. Saturday’s schedule will feature Arizona Western vs. Yavapai at 1 p.m. and the weekend finale, EAC hosting Arizona Western at 7 p.m.

“I expect a battle,” Kay said. “Both matches are going to be really hard.”

Team Previews:

Eastern Arizona The Gila Monsters continue to get better as sophomore transfer Dreanne Shaw leads the conference in hitting percentage at a .466 tilt, and ranks third with 3.37 kills-per-set. Sophomore setter Kalia Yasek leads the ACCAC in assists-per-set with 10 while red-shirt freshman middle blocker Marci King leads the league in total blocks (23), sits second in blocks-per-set (1.21), and is third in hitting percentage at .380. Freshman outside hitter Ami Baldwin is a jack of all trades as she ranks in the top 10 in four statistical categories: fourth in total digs (62), sixth in hitting percentage (.330), seventh in digs-per-set (3.26), and 10th in kills-per-set with 2.42.

Yavapai The Roughriders bring in outside hitter Haley Shackleford, a 6-1 freshman who leads the conference with 90 total kills and is fifth in kills per set at 3.21. She was named the NJCAA Division I and ACCAC Players of the Week the first week of the season. Yavapai’s other outside hitter, 5-11 sophomore Jordan Anderson, is among league leaders in offensive statistics. Anderson is second in total kills with 87 and her 3.00 kills per set rank her sixth. Sophomore defensive specialist Tialei Agader leads the conference in total digs with 138 and digs per set at 4.76.

Arizona Western The Matadors recently dropped out of the NJCAA Division I Top 20. Their biggest weapon is freshman outside hitter Tanya Ugaitafa. She has played in just seven sets this season, but is second in the ACCAC in kills-per-set with 3.57 and sixth in digs-per-set with 3.43.