Cougars Prepare For MWC Battle

Senior middle blocker Rachel Dyer ranks fifth in the MWC in hitting percentage (.353) and eighth in blocks (1.16). (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- For the fourth time in the last five weeks, the No. 21 BYU women’s volleyball team will hit the road, playing at New Mexico on Thursday and at TCU on Saturday in Mountain West Conference action. At 9-3 overall and 2-1 in league play, the Cougars are looking to make a statement and distance themselves from a pack that includes four teams with 2-1 MWC records.

“We’re working hard to prepare for two quality opponents,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “Our conference is competitive, and we have to be ready to play two tough opponents on the road.”

Both matches this week will have several coverage options. Thursday’s match at New Mexico will begin at 7 p.m. and be carried live on both The Mtn. and BYU Radio in addition to CSTV All-Access and GameTracker. Saturday’s match at TCU is set for 1 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on BYU Radio at 4:30 p.m. MT to accommodate the Saturday afternoon session of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. CSTV All-Access and GameTracker will carry the match live.

After playing three straight weeks on the road, the Cougars returned home last weekend to sweep Air Force. Senior middle blocker Rachel Dyer led the way with nine kills on .500 hitting to go along with seven blocks. On the year, Dyer ranks fifth in the MWC in hitting percentage (.353) and eighth in blocks (1.16). In league play, she is fifth in hitting (.438), 10th in kills (2.67), second in blocks (1.67), second in points (4.17) and first in aces (0.67).

The win moved BYU into a four-way tie for second place in the MWC along with fellow 2-1 teams New Mexico, TCU and UNLV. With matches against the Lobos and Horned Frogs looming, the Cougars are hoping to join Colorado State at the top of the league standings.

The New Mexico Lobos are 12-2 so far this season and 2-1 in the MWC after winning their first eight matches of the year and the last four straight sandwiched around losses at No. 2 Nebraska and TCU. Senior outside hitter Jeanne Fairchild leads the team and the MWC in kills with 4.50 per set and points at 4.91. Senior libero Gayle Tripp is second in the conference with 4.69 digs per set while sophomore setter Jade Michaelson ranks second in the MWC at 10.76 assists per set. As a team, UNM paces the MWC in assists (12.60), aces (1.44) and opponent hitting percentage (.125). BYU owns a 61-9 all-time record against the Lobos after splitting the season series last year and recording a five-set victory in the MWC Tournament.

The TCU Horned Frogs are 13-3 overall and 2-1 in Mountain West Conference play this season after reeling off 10 straight wins to begin the year. They are also 6-0 at home but have not played a home match since Sept. 12. Junior outside hitter Lauren Otto leads the team and ranks fourth in the MWC with 3.31 kills per set while contributing 2.39 digs per set. Senior middle blocker Devon Kirk is hitting .380 on the year to rank second in the league and adds 0.86 blocks per set, which is second on the team. As a team, TCU paces the league with 13.55 kps. BYU has never lost to the Horned Frogs, going 11-0 all-time.

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