BYU Athletics Blog | 2014

Women's basketball, Blog 1 from Madrid, Spain

Aug 16, 2014 - Posted by Norma Collett at 3:13 pm | Updated: August 17, 2014 4:02 pm | Permalink

Madrid, Spain (Aug. 15 & 16, 2014)

Blog One
The BYU women’s basketball team arrived in Madrid, Spain at 9 a.m., on Saturday, Aug. 16. The Cougars flew from Salt Lake International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport, then onto Madrid.

A bus took the group from the airport to the hotel. Once the luggage was left in a secure room, the group went on a walk to a market for a sampling of Spanish food. Two tour guides met us there and took us on an hour and half walking tour through parts of Madrid.

Then it was off to practice at the multipurpose gym of the Polideportivo Municipal de Torrelodones basketball club, the team the Cougars play on Monday evening.

Here’s more from Kristine Fuller and Xojian Harry on our travel day and first full day in Madrid.

Kristine Fuller
What was the flight/travel getting to Spain like?
The two flights were long but luckily no delays and our six-hour flight to Madrid had individual TV’s. It was really weird leaving early Friday and arriving Saturday morning.

Did you meet any interesting people on the plane?
I sat next to teammates both times. We laughed a lot and played games. Monopoly Deal is the game of choice.

What did you do to occupy your time on the plane to NYC and then on to Madrid?
In NYC tried connecting to WiFi to watch Netflix, but it didn’t work, so ended up watching Bourne Supremacy and playing Monopoly Deal. On the flight to Madrid I watched two movies—Draft Day and Moulin Rouge. I sang along to Moulin Rouge, slept a lot and Ashley and I had a competition to see who can keep a spoon on one’s nose the longest. All of us slept, watched movies and snacked a lot.

Did you meet our tour guides? What are they like?
We have two tour guides – Brooke and Corey. Both are great! We got to take a two-hour walking tour around Madrid. We’ve had two different buses and drivers so far. The drivers are nice and the buses are smooth and clean.

What are you most looking forward to doing/seeing while in Spain?
I’m looking forward to trying new food!

Xojian Harry
What was the first thing you saw/noticed when we arrived in Madrid?
The first thing we saw was a big cemetery with thousands of tombstones and that was really cool. We also noticed as soon as we got off the plane there were a lot of weird smells.

What was the weather like?
At first the weather was a bit chilly, but then it got really hot, really fast.

What’s the hotel like?
The hotel is really small in comparison to U.S., hotels. There are two beds in the rooms but they are twin size and are really close together. We had a few struggles trying to figure out how to turn on the lights and the shower. Also, we found out that the drinks are not served cold and the showers aren’t exactly hot.

What places did you get to see on Saturday in Madrid?
We walked around the heart of Madrid and saw the restaurant Sobrino de Botin Horno de Asar, which is the oldest restaurant in the world. We went to El Mercado de San Miguel, which is a food market where you can get a variety of food, fruits, pastries and drinks. We saw a convent on Calle del Codo, which means Elbow Street.

What were your impressions of Madrid after a full day in the city?
It has sort of a small town feel. There are some really beautiful buildings with gorgeous architecture. It is kind of sad though because a lot of the buildings have graffiti all over them.

Did you get to meet or see anyone interesting?
We saw two men run out of a McDonald’s with big bags over their shoulders and they got chased by the police. We also saw a middle-aged couple fighting and the wife was smacking her husband and he was trying to run away pushing his cart.

Was it hard to communicate with the Spanish people?
For the most part, a lot of the Spanish people knew English, so communicating wasn't too bad.

What was the first Spanish food you ate?   Was it hard to order/communicate with waiter/waitress?
The first Spanish food I ate was rice and chorizo tapas. It wasn’t hard to communicate with the lady at the market because she knew Spanish. At our evening dinner, they brought us steaks that were seared on each side and raw in the middle. We were all confused and then they brought out hot plates to cook the meat to our liking. It was cool and delicious.  The steaks came with French fries. The restaurant was called Fatigas del Querer and it was a short walk from our hotel.

Tell us anything else about the day?
Today was kind of hard for all of us because of the jetlag and fatigue we had to deal with. Everyone was exhausted on our walking tour but after practice everyone felt a lot better. We will all definitely sleep well tonight.

Did you do any shopping?  Get any souvenirs?
We didn’t get to do any shopping today, but we saw a few little shops that we want to stop by to look around in when we have a chance.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Carla Swensen

Aug 07, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 3:36 pm | Updated: August 7, 2014 3:37 pm | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – Freshman Carla Swensen had a different senior year than most high school seniors as she competed with the Colombian U-20 team last fall and winter. 

"Living in another country in itself is a big culture change," Swensen said. "Then being under the pressure of making the national team, obviously, it's a super high level of competitiveness. It was a sacrifice for me, missing my senior year and everything that's supposed to happen in a senior year, but for me it was one of the most amazing things to represent Colombia and play soccer at such a high level."

Colombia finished just behind Brazil and Paraguay who qualified for this month's U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada. 

Her experience also made her want to play at BYU even more.

"A lot of the players on the Colombian team play in college here in the states," Swensen said. "I saw the way that they played and I was like 'Hey I can compete with them and I am playing well with them' and it made me more excited to come to BYU."

Swensen was an All-State Second Team and All-Region First Team selection in her junior year and is also a two-time 5A state debate champion. 

Her summer wasn't quite as interesting, but she's glad it's finally over with.

"It's been a lot of fun," Swensen said. "I've been waiting to play for the Cougars for so long."

The first scrimmage of the season is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the home opener is Aug. 25 against Washington State.

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood discuss Ringwood and the other freshmen in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Stephanie Ringwood

Aug 07, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 10:00 am | Updated: August 7, 2014 10:02 am | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – Stephanie Ringwood comes to BYU with a slightly different set of expectations. Her sister, Jessica, scored 20 goals and made 12 assists for the Cougars between 2009 and 2012. Of course that also means Stephanie is a little better prepared when it comes to being familiar with the program.

"I've talked to her about it and she's given me a few tips," Ringwood said. "We mostly just talk about what to look out for and how to really enjoy it and make the best out of the experience."

Ringwood won two state championships at Brighton in 2010 and 2013. She was a two-time Salt Lake Tribune First Team All-State selection and was part of the seven-time Utah State Cup Sparta United club team.

Getting started with the season is a bit of a relief now that the wait is over.

"I'm really excited," Ringwood said. "I've wanted to do this since I was really little, so it has always been my dream."

The first scrimmage of the season is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. and the home opener is Aug. 25 against Washington State at 5:30 p.m.

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood discuss Ringwood and the other freshmen in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Elisabeth Phillips

Aug 06, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 3:58 pm | Updated: August 6, 2014 4:01 pm | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – Elisabeth "Bizzy" Phillips is thrilled to bring high school and club teammates with her for her first season at BYU, but she's most excited about playing with Michele Murphy again.

They played together at Alta three seasons ago and now will get to reunite on the pitch. 

"I'm really excited to be wearing a BYU jersey – finally – after dreaming about it for so many years," Phillips said. "I'm excited to play with Murph again because we played in high school together and we're best friends too, so I'm so excited we're finally back on the same field again. 

The summer made it a long wait, but camps helped the time pass.

"It was exhausting in the best way possible," Phillips said. "It was fun because we finally got to teach the girls and it was less stressful."

Phillips is a two-time High School All-American and two-time Gatorade Utah Player of the Year. In addition to being a three-time First Team All-State selection, she was a 2013 UHSAA Academic All-State selection. She left Alta as the career assists leader with 60. 

The first scrimmage is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the home opener is Aug. 25 against Washington State, but that can't come soon enough for Phillips.

"Finally playing with the team is a dream come true," Phillips said. "Playing with Brigham Young on my chest – I'm so excited for that."

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood discuss Phillips and the other freshmen in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Shaylyn Orr

Aug 06, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 10:48 am | Updated: August 6, 2014 10:50 am | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – Shaylyn Orr has been waiting to play soccer longer than most of the other freshmen in this year's class due to an injury this summer. Today is the first day of practice and it couldn't have come soon enough.

"(Playing for BYU) is my dream," Orr said. "I can't wait to do it. I'm going to do everything I can."

Orr is one of three freshmen who played at Alta High School. She was also state champion in 2011 and runner-up in 2012. Orr also won a basketball state championship in 2011 for Alta. She was part of the Sparta United run of seven Utah State Cup championships.

While she didn't get to play much soccer this summer she did get to coach at the summer camps.

"It's cool being on the other side of it," Orr said. "It's fun to get to show everyone what you know and to interact and get to know lots of little kids who can possibly be our fans in the future."

She also learned she makes a pretty good coach.

"Being coached all those years, it's weird what you remember and what sticks with you," Orr said. "It's a lot easier than I thought it'd be."

The first scrimmage for the Cougars is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the season opener is Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton. Orr can't wait to finally make it onto South Field.

"Being on South Field, that's hopefully going to be my sanctuary," Orr said. "I've been watching games there since I was a little girl, so I can't wait to be the player on the field."

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood talk about Orr and all the other freshmen in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Madie Lyons

Aug 01, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 11:00 am | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – The Cougars are just a few days away from starting camp and freshman Madie Lyons can't wait.

"I'm so excited," Lyons said. "I'm so ready for the coaches to give me feedback so I can learn from them."

Lyons is a forward who is one of three freshmen who played for Alta High School. She was a three-year starter in high school, won a state championship in 2011 and finished her senior year as a runner-up in 2012. Lyons was twice named First Team All-State and First Team All-Region.

She was also part of the seven-time Utah State Cup champion Sparta United club team.

Lyons spent her summer coaching at summer camps and she was happy to be dishing out advice when it came to soccer.

"It's been a blast," Lyons said. "I like being a camper too, but I like being a coach better. Sharing my talents with kids and teaching them what I've learned is really fun too."

With classes a month away and getting to be around campus without a full batch of students, there's some time for getting used to Provo and BYU's campus.

"I've come to camps before, so I'm familiar with campus," Lyons said. "I'm expanding that, going to lunch and hanging out with the girls. I definitely learn a lot about campus. Everyone's so nice and the environment is great."

Lyons said she's happy to be here and lucky to have this opportunity ahead of her. Fall camp starts on Monday, Aug. 4, the first scrimmage is the Blue/White game on Wednesday, Aug. 13 and the season opener is Friday, Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton.

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood discuss Lyons and all the other freshmen in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Nadia Gomes

Jul 30, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 12:01 pm | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – Two months ago, Nadia Gomes was playing soccer in Portugal trying to help the Portuguese U-19 team qualify for the European U-19 Championships.

Gomes was a 5A state champion with Brighton High School and was the 5A girls soccer MVP for both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune. She played her club soccer with Murray Max where she was team captain, but even though she played a state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium, her experience in Europe included plenty of larger stadiums and challenging experiences on the field she hadn't been through before.

"It was a cool experience," Gomes said. "I really liked it."

Gomes played in two qualifying tournaments for the UEFA U-19 European Championships over the past year. Her Portugal team won its group in the first round of qualifying defeating Russia, Macedonia and Belarus, but fell short in the final round of qualifying coming in third in the group behind Spain and Switzerland. Gomes scored two goals in six games, starting in four. Group winner Spain lost to the Netherlands 1-0 this past Sunday in the title game. 

Her international experience is something few BYU recruits have on their resumes when they arrive in Provo, but she has already helped some players with her goal-scoring skills in camps this summer.

"I like to give advice to the girls so they can get better," Gomes said.

Gomes and the Cougars start fall camp on Aug. 4. The first scrimmage is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the season opener is Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton.

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood talk about Gomes and the other incoming freshmen in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Alyssa Jefferson

Jul 28, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 11:35 am | Updated: July 28, 2014 11:39 am | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – BYU freshman Alyssa Jefferson had a much less stressful summer this year thanks to getting to be an instructor at summer camps instead of being a camper trying to earn a spot on the Cougars roster.

"It's a lot less stressful now," Jefferson said. "It's more fun to be part of the team instead of trying so hard to be on it and annoying the girls."

Jefferson signed to play with BYU last February and has been getting used to how the Cougars play defense this summer.

"It's hard," Jefferson said. "It's a lot more different than club. In club, it's more standoffish and waiting on them. In this, you're on them the whole time."

Jefferson is another member of the seven-time Utah State Cup champion Sparta United club team and played at Jordan High School. She was a three-time All-Region selection and is healthy to start her freshman year at BYU. The other incoming freshmen help her feel comfortable since they are familiar faces.

"It's a blast," Jefferson said. "Even the other two we've played against for so long. It's been fun and it's a good start to know each other so closely, because then you feel comfortable giving them instructions and talking to them."

Fall camp starts on Aug. 4, the first scrimmage is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the season opener is Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton.

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood talk about Jefferson and all the other recruits in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Rachel Bingham

Jul 23, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 3:24 pm | Updated: July 23, 2014 3:28 pm | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – Rachel Bingham has been enjoying her month worth of summer camps leading up to the start of her first fall camp with BYU women's soccer in August.

"I've been coming here since I was little," Bingham said. "So it's weird and cool to be demonstrating in front of the little kids. I looked up to the coaches and thought they were awesome, so it's cool to be one of them now."

Bingham is one of a group of Sparta United players whose team won seven Utah State Cup titles in their youth career who have arrived in Provo to play for the Cougars. She played her high school soccer at Maple Mountain High School and participated in the 2013 NSCAA Girls' High School All-American game for the West squad.

Bingham was named first team All-State in 2010, 2012 and 2013 by the Salt Lake Tribune and was UHSAA Region 8 MVP in 2012 as she captained Maple Mountain her junior and senior seasons.

Along with camps, she has been able to play with her new teammates for the first time.

"It's helped a lot with the speed of play," Bingham said. "Coming into it, the speed of play is the biggest thing that's the difference."

As for having played with five of her teammates already on her club team, "it's awesome. It's nice knowing people on the team."

Fall camp starts on August 4, the first scrimmage is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the season opener is Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton.

Watch what head coach Jennifer Rockwood had to say about Bingham and the other recruits on Signing Day in the video below:

Sander leads USA to gold

Jul 21, 2014 - Posted by at 11:10 am | Updated: July 21, 2014 11:11 am | Permalink

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Former BYU outside hitter Taylor Sander led the U.S. Men’s National Team to defeat the world’s No. 1 Brazil 3-1 (31-29, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23) Sunday, clinching the FIVB World League gold medal for a second time in the team’s history.

Sander led Team USA in points for the third-consecutive match. He notched 24 points in the contest on 22 kills, earning him MVP honors of the tournament. He was also named Best Spiker. 

Two and a half months ago, Sander was playing for BYU in the NCAA Men's National Championships.

Taylor Sander played an amazing game,” USA middle blocker David Lee said. “Guys like him are the future, and tonight really couldn’t have worked out better.”

Team USA handled three key phases of the match with Brazil, winning in attacks (60-51), blocks (14-11) and digs (42-40), on their way to the 3-1 win.

With the win, the U.S. joins Brazil (9), Italy (8), and Russia (3) as teams that have won gold more than once at the FIVB World League.

The last gold-medal win for Team USA at the FIVB World League came against Serbia in 2008.

Next up for the team will be the USA Volleyball Cup against Iran in August.