Seniors Rachel Dyer and Bryn Porter will be honored Saturday night during Senior Night festivities. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU women’s volleyball team will say farewell to the 2008 season this week as the Cougars compete in the final two matches of the year. BYU (12-12, 5-9 MWC) will host No. 15 Colorado State Thursday at 7 p.m. before taking on Wyoming Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. Thursday’s match will be televised live on The Mtn. while Saturday’s contest will feature Senior Night festivities honoring the two outgoing Cougars – Rachel Dyer and Bryn Porter.
“The team is definitely peaking right now and playing some great volleyball,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “We are looking forward to going the distance and finishing strong at home this week against Colorado State and Wyoming. Without a doubt, fans will get some great volleyball action in these two exciting matches.”
The Cougars are indeed peaking since making a line-up change on Oct. 17. BYU is coming off a five-set loss Friday night at No. 23 Utah that saw the Cougars take a 2-1 set lead before the home team was able to pull out the win. Junior Kayla Walker had been particularly impressive down the stretch. Prior to the change, Walker was second on the team with 2.72 kills per set, eighth hitting .207, fifth with 1.95 digs per set and fourth with 0.77 blocks per set. In the eight matches since the switch, she has improved her numbers in every category. She now leads BYU and ranks seventh in the MWC with 3.59 kps, is third on the team hitting .257, ranks second for the Cougars with 2.34 dps and is tied for the team lead with 1.17 bps. She has posted three double-doubles in that time and became the first Cougar to top the 20-kill mark this year with 21 at UNLV before posting 20 at Utah.
In addition to the excitement and emotion of taking on No. 15 Colorado State on Thursday, Saturday’s match will be the final contest in the impressive careers of Dyer and Porter.
A 6-foot-1 middle blocker, Dyer has left her mark on the Cougar program. She is a two-time All-Mountain West Conference honoree, a two-time AVCA West All-Region recipient and earned 2007 AVCA All-America honorable mention. The Encinitas, Calif. native posted the fourth-best hitting percentage in BYU history last season with a .411 mark, which also ranked 11th nationally. She has annually ranked among the league leaders in hitting percentage and blocks and has been a powerful presence in the middle throughout her career.
A 5-foot-10 outside hitter, Porter has been a solid performer for the Cougars, especially over the past two seasons. Playing alongside Chelsea Goodman last season, Porter averaged 2.79 kills per set and posted double-digit kills in 19 matches. As one of the Cougars’ go-to girls this year, Porter is among the team leaders in kills and is second for BYU in double-doubles. A team captain and two-time Academic All-MWC honoree, Porter has been named to three all-tournament teams in her career, earning BYU Molten Classic MVP honors this year.
Both the Rams and the Cowgirls will be looking to spoil the fun of the Cougars’ final weekend of play. Colorado State is 22-3 so far in 2008 and ranked No. 15 nationally. The Rams’ 12-2 MWC mark is tied for first with Utah. Two Rams pace the CSU offense as reigning MWC Player of the Year Mekana Barnes, a senior middle blocker, tallies a team-best 3.40 kps while senior outside hitter Jaime Strauss is right behind with 3.20 kills per set. Barnes is also hitting .369 on the year to rank second in the conference and notches a league-leading 1.48 blocks per set, which is fifth nationally. The Rams swept BYU earlier this season in Fort Collins, Colo., but BYU owns a 47-22-1 all-time series lead.
The Wyoming Cowgirls are 5-18 overall this season and 4-10 in league play. Sophomore rightside hitter Dani Bedore leads the team and ranks fifth in the league with 3.02 kills per set after transferring from South Carolina. Bedore’s 0.55 blocks per set is third for Wyoming. Two other Cowgirls – Lauren Whitney (2.93) and Jenna Arneson (2.32) top two kps to balance out the Wyoming offense. The Cougars swept the Cowgirls earlier this year to open MWC play and own a 62-4 all-time series lead.
In addition to live coverage of the CSU match on The Mtn., live stats for both matches will be available on GameTracker. A link to GameTracker can be found by going to the schedule page of the BYU women’s volleyball homepage at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/.