Women’s volleyball ready for third season in WCC

(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU women’s volleyball looks to expand on last season’s success as the Cougars prepare for a tough schedule in 2013.

“We are excited for the upcoming season in the WCC,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “There is no doubt that our conference will be stronger than it was last year. Each match will be an exciting competition. Out of conference, we are going up against great programs and playing against a handful of teams that competed in the NCAA tournament last year, but our preparation is the same as it always is.”

Last season BYU finished 28-4 and 13-3 in West Coast Conference play with a No. 12 national ranking. The conference record was good for a tie for first place in league play with San Diego. The Cougars advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament before falling to Oregon.

Returning starters for the 2013 season include Alexa Gray, Jessica Jardine, Kathryn LeCheminant and Tia Withers Welling.

New on this year’s roster are freshmen Cosy Burnett, Makenna Santiago and Camille Walker. Also joining the ranks are transfer students Camry Godfrey, Tambre Haddock and Ali White.

Breakdown by Position

Middle blocker

Returning to BYU’s front line is veteran middle blocker LeCheminant, who averaged 1.01 blocks per set last season. During the offseason, LeCheminant participated in the Women’s National A2 Program, a camp comprised of elite collegiate volleyball players from around the country, where she won gold with Team White during the tournament.

Redshirt freshmen Amy Boswell and Whitney Young join the cast of middles this season. Boswell’s sister, senior Kimberli Boswell, is also in the ranks.

Outside hitter

True sophomore All-American Gray returns for 2013, along with redshirt sophomore Kimberly Dahl. Gray was second on the team in kills per set with 3.26 while hitting .308 in 2012. Dahl was third, averaging 2.14 and hitting .193. Dahl attended the A2 program with LeCheminant during the summer.  

Jardine returns for her senior season as an outside hitter along with juniors Hannah Robison and Katie Vaughn. Freshmen Burnett and Walker also join the ranks with transfer Haddock. Young backs up the position as well.

Opposite

With Jennifer Hamson’s decision to redshirt in volleyball this year, the opposite position remains open without a clear starter. Boswell and Burnett are the duo that will see the most time at the position. Boswell backed up Hamson last season while Burnett is new to the role.

Look for Kimberli’s sister Amy, who also plays middle blocker, to backup the opposite position as well.

Setter

BYU lost its senior setter Heather Hannemann to graduation last year. To vie for the position this year will be two transfer students, sophomores Camry Godfrey (SLCC) and Ali White (UVU).

Godfrey received honorable mention last season at Salt Lake Community College, while White appeared in 14 matches for Utah Valley as a true freshman, posting a season-high nine assists against No. 16 BYU.

Libero/defensive specialist

The Cougars return junior Tia Withers Welling as the team's primary libero. Welling totaled 360 digs last season while playing in all 112 sets.

BYU has two other liberos/defensive specialists in its ranks with sophomore Ciara Parker and freshman Makenna Santiago. Last season, Parker recorded a team-high 385 digs (good for No. 8 in BYU history for digs in a season) and played in all but one set.

Schedule

BYU launches the 2013 season with a pair of tournaments. The Cougars first head to Bowling Green State University in Ohio to play in the Hampton Inn Invitational. On Aug. 30, the team goes against Creighton in its season opener. BYU then faces both Marquette and Bowling Green State to finish out the tournament on Aug. 31.

The Cougars will then travel back to Utah to face instate opponent Utah Valley in Orem on Sept. 3 before heading to Oregon for the Portland State Tournament. BYU will first play against Portland State in the opener on Sept. 3. The next day the Cougars will take on both Fresno State and Oklahoma. The match against Oklahoma will be a rematch of a game BYU won last year in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

BYU then returns to the Smith Fieldhouse for a pair of nonconference home matches. The Cougars will face Montana State and UC Irvine in Provo before traveling to the University of Utah to take on the Utes in the Deseret First Duel.

During conference play, the Cougars will face five teams that made it to the NCAA tournament in 2012. Saint Mary’s made it to the second round of the tournament, while San Diego, Pepperdine, Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount all lost in the first round.

The Cougars will face an unfamiliar conference opponent this year in Pacific. The Tigers rejoined the WCC after leaving the Big West Conference after last year. Pacific was a charter member of the WCC when the league was first formed.

BYU begins 2013 league play with a tough slate of home matches. San Diego will come to Provo on Sept. 20, followed by Saint Mary’s on Sep. 26. The Cougars split the series with each team in 2012. In the 2013 WCC Preseason Coaches Poll, San Diego and Saint Mary’s are picked to finish second and third after BYU, respectively.

All but two home matches will be televised on BYUtv this year.

Televised Matches

Date Opponent Channel Time
Sept. 10 Montana State BYUtv 7 p.m. MDT
Sept. 12 UC Irvine BYUtv 7 p.m. MDT
Sept. 17 at Utah Pac-12 Network 7 p.m. MDT
Sept. 20 San Diego BYUtv 7 p.m. MDT
Sept. 26 Saint Mary's BYUtv 7 p.m. MDT
Sept. 28 Pacific BYUtv 8 p.m. MDT
Oct. 3 at Pepperdine ESPNU 8 p.m. PDT
Oct. 10 Santa Clara BYUtv 7 p.m. MDT
Oct. 12 San Francisco BYUtv TBA
Oct. 24 at Pacific ESPNU 8 p.m. MDT
Oct. 31 Loyola Marymount BYUtv 7 p.m. MDT
Nov. 2 Pepperdine BYUtv 1 p.m. MDT