Rightside hitter Carrie Bowers has enjoyed a strong start to her senior campaign. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
As a hotly sought-after recruit coming out of Highland High School (Salt Lake City, Utah), senior rightside hitter Carrie Bowers nearly went to USC, but after much deliberation decided to become a student-athlete at BYU. After two of her older brothers went to play football at the University of Utah, Bowers turned the tide and became a Cougar.
After a redshirt freshman campaign, she was a reserve middle blocker behind three-time All-American Nina Puikkonen and 2000 All-Mountain West Conference selection Jackie Bundy. Then Bowers' growth as a player hit the wall, as she was sidelined by injuries and surgery to her feet.
In 2002, her first as a full-time starter, Bowers started the season as one of the nation's top collegiate blockers. Slowly, though, stress fractures to both feet would curtail her effectiveness, to the point of not being able to practice as the season wore on. She still led the Cougars in blocks with 161 (1.38 blocks per game) and was third on the team with 235 kills (2.01 kpg).
This season, Bowers has made the turn and come full circle. Shifted back to her natural position on the rightside, she has flourished. In BYU's season-opening tournament at the University of Florida, she made her debut at her new position against American and proceeded to put down a career-high 22 kills. In the Cougars' next match against Rutgers, Bowers set a career-high .583 hitting percentage, while again leading BYU in kills with 15.
In the tournament concluding match against No. 3 Florida, Bowers was matched up against All-American Aury Cruz and held her a .227 attack percentage. She again led BYU in kills with 13, en route to being named to the all-tournament team. On Sept. 2, Bowers was selected as MWC Player of the Week for the first time.
For her final year Bowers, a co-captain with fellow senior Uila Crabbe, has set some definite goals.
"I have a personal goal of being the number one blocker in the conference," Bowers said. "But it's a lot more difficult picking up blocks on the rightside, than in the middle. So if I averaged over one block a game, I think I would be doing my job."
She also knows what the team is capable of.
"We definitely want to win the conference," Bowers said. "We're a very talented team, and as far as team goals go, we can go to the Elite Eight. If we make it that far I think we can get into the Final Four."
Playing Florida early in the season was eye-opening exposure to top-level competition. While Bowers admits the Gators were a better team in August, she senses that the Cougars will not only be at a level to compete better, but to win against top-ranked teams as the season wears on.
"I want to be the best and not have any regrets," Bowers said. "I'm the oldest on the team and I feel the need to be the steadiest and most consistent. I always want to be counted on."
As the season unfolds, Bowers is confident the young team will come together and be a force. If she were to have one wish, and one wish only, her answer is unequivocal.
"I want to beat Utah," she says. "I just want to beat Utah."
Nickname: None--just "Berry" to my family
Favorite Movie: Braveheart
Favorite Music group: Creed
Favorite Food: Definitely steak
Favorite Actor: Morgan Freeman
What color is your tootbrush: White/pink/green
What is your favorite shampoo: Infusium
What is your favorite scent at Bath and Body Works: Any citrus scent
What is your favorite breakfast meal: Cereal preferably Life
Before a volleyball match, I: munch a little, take a really long time getting ready and then serve and pass.
Who has had the greatest influence on your volleyball career and why: Keith Siddoway, my former club coach from age 13 to 18 when I was recruited (died of cancer last summer).
Who is the best player you've ever faced: Kim Willoughby from Hawaii
One place you would like to visit and why: Hawaii, I've never been there. I was packed and ready to go for a pre-season tournament on Sept. 11, 2001. It never happened.
What is your favorite hobby away from volleyball: I like to wakeboard during the summer.
What is your most memorable athletic achievement or moment: Beating CSU on their court to go to conference championships.
What gets you pumped up before a match: Watching opponents warm up, figuring how to block them and their tendencies.
My advice to young volleyball players: Play club and always have a goal in mind like a scholarship because you'll definitely reach it if you do.
Which reality show would you want to be on: Road Rules, I'd kick some trash.
What is the best book you've ever read: Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
If you could only keep one possession, what would it be and why: Aside from scriptures, my blanket. I can't sleep without something covering me.
What is your most memorable date: When my friend Phil felt bad for me and asked me out, and then sent me home at 11 P.M. because he needed to get up early for football.
What is one thing you want to do in your lifetime: I want to play volleyball overseas.
What is your biggest fear: Failure to reach my full potential in this life.
How did you spend your off-season: Playing volleyball a little less, more pool time and naps.
What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I want to be a wife and a mother.
If you could invite three people to dinner, who would they be: Joseph Smith, Moroni and Owen Wilson
Interesting fact most people don't know about me: I've never been bitten by a mosquito.