Senior middle blocker Rachel Dyer was named to the preseason All-MWC Team. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The No. 24 BYU women’s volleyball team (7-2) will begin Mountain West Conference play this week on the road, playing at Wyoming on Thursday and at No. 15 Colorado State on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. and be broadcast live on BYU Radio.
“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves during our preseason tournaments,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “We know we have some work to do, but we’re ready to put it out there and start conference play. The MWC will be tough this year, and Colorado State has done very well so far, but I think when we play our best, we can match up against anyone.”
BYU was picked to finish third in the MWC this season behind CSU and Utah in a vote of the league’s head coaches and selected media. The Cougars (12-4) were tied with UNLV for second last year behind the Rams, finished second behind Utah in 2006 and won the league title in 2005. BYU has a 100-32 (.785) regular-season record in nine years of MWC play. Overall, the Cougars have a winning record against every team in the league with an all-time record of 321-76-1 (.808) against conference teams.
The Cougars went 2-1 last weekend to finish second at the InnTowner Invitational hosted by the University of Wisconsin. BYU started the event on Friday with a four-set win over Boise State followed by a sweep of Central Michigan Saturday morning. The Cougars faced the No. 14 Badgers in the tournament finale on Wisconsin’s home floor and led two sets to one before falling in five sets. Seniors Rachel Dyer and Bryn Porter were named to the All-Tournament Team (see below). In addition to solid performances from their starters, the Cougars got lifts off the bench from sophomore rightside hitter Christina Measom, who posted a career-high eight kills on .700 hitting against the Chippewas, and sophomore defensive specialist Melissa Lake, who led BYU with 18 digs against Wisconsin.
Including six matches over the last two weeks and two upcoming contests this week, the Cougars are currently in the middle of an eight-match road stretch. All in all, BYU will play 10 of its first 14 matches of the 2008 season away from the Smith Fieldhouse.
The Wyoming Cowgirls are 1-8 overall this season after earning their first victory with a sweep of Cleveland State on Saturday. Two of their eight losses came against nationally ranked teams Hawaii and Minnesota. Sophomore rightside hitter Dani Bedore leads the team with 2.83 kills per set after transferring from South Carolina. Bedore’s 0.57 blocks per set is third for Wyoming. Three other Cowgirls – Lauren Whitney (2.63), Jenna Arneson (2.17) and JennaRae Jester (2.09) top two kps to balance out the Wyoming offense. Senior libero Carissa Lee paces the team with 3.09 digs per set while sophomore middle blocker Chantilly Watson posts a team-best 0.92 bps.
The Colorado State Rams are 8-1 so farin 2008 and ranked No. 15 nationally after an upset of No. 8 Florida on Friday. CSU’s only loss was a four-set setback against Pepperdine. Two Rams pace the CSU offense as senior outside hitter Jaime Strauss tallies a team-best 3.23 kills per set while reigning MWC Player of the Year Mekana Barnes, a senior middle blocker, is right behind with 3.12 kps. Barnes is also hitting .351 on the year and notches a league-leading 1.59 blocks per set. Junior middle blocker Tessa Nelson is second on the team anad sixth in the conference with 1.13 bps, helping Colorado State lead the MWC in blocks at 3.17. Junior libero Katelin Batten records a team-best 3.50 digs per set.
In addition to coverage on BYU Radio, both matches will be available via CSTV All-Access and Game Tracker. Links to all of these options can be found by going to the BYU women’s volleyball homepage at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/.
Fans can join the official BYU Women’s Volleyball Texting Group by texting “WVB” to 83043. Members of the group will get updates about game times and special promotions.