Women's Volleyball Opens Season

PROVO, Utah (Aug. 22, 2011)—After a Tuesday Blue and White Match, the BYU women’s volleyball team launches the 2011 season hosting the BYU Nike Invitational Friday and Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse.

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The Cougars welcome No. 8 Illinois, UC Santa Barbara and league-opponent Saint Mary’s to Provo.

“This is our first opportunity to measure progress so far,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We’re going against quality opponents. Each one of those teams is a good competitor. We’re excited to host the tournament and excited for our first weekend of play.”

The tournament starts with a matchup between Illinois and BYU at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a UCSB and Saint Mary’s matchup at 7:30 p.m. BYU and UCSB start off the second day of competition at 10 a.m., followed by matches between Illinois and Saint Mary’s at noon and UCSB and Illinois at 5:30 p.m.

BYU ends the tournament going head-to-head with Saint Mary’s in a preview for conference play at 8 p.m.

A qualifier for the 2010 NCAA Sweet 16, Illinois totaled 24 victories and a 14-6 conference record. The Illini bring back senior All-Americans outside hitters Colleen Ward, who led the team with 511 kills, and Michelle Bartsch, who totaled 448 kills and 104 blocks. Joining them is sophomore Jennifer Beltran who set a school season record with 623 digs in 2010.

UCSB returns AVCA All-America Honorable Mention Stacey Schmidt. Schmidt recorded 333 kills in 2010 for the Gauchos. UCSB went 16-13 in 2010 and 10-6 in conference.

Saint Mary’s went 20-8 in 2010 and ended second in the West Coast Conference with a 12-2 record. Seven letterwinners are returning for the Gaels and seven recruits will join the team. Among the Gaels’ returners are Lauren Corp, who recorded 301 kills and 288 digs last season, and Gabby Jolly, who totaled 263 kills and 106 blocks.

Prior to the match against Illinois, fans can participate in pre-game fun with the Cheer Squad, the Cougarettes and Cosmo starting at 4:30 p.m. between the Fieldhouse and the Richards Building. Admission is free to students with a student I.D. card or a freshman wristband for the Illinois match. Family passes are available for $10 (originally $15) and fans in attendance can receive a voucher for free admission to the Saturday match against Saint Mary’s. The UCSB match Saturday morning is free to all spectators.

Tuesday, the Cougars will scrimmage in the Blue and White Match at 5 p.m. in the Fieldhouse.

“The Blue and White Match is an opportunity for us to get our match routines in place,” Olmstead said. “We’ll get to see different lineups and rotations and see who plays well together on the court.”

Admission to the scrimmage is free.

* To accommodate a live TV broadcast, Saturday’s match against Saint Mary’s has been moved to 8 p.m.

** The Blue and White Match has been moved 5 p.m. Tuesday due to a BYU soccer match.