Women's volleyball ready for challenging 2015 season
PROVO, Utah – No. 11 BYU women’s volleyball looks to build on its success from last season as the Cougars prepare for another tough schedule in 2015.
Last year, BYU finished 30-5 and 16-2 in the West Coast Conference with a No. 3 final national ranking. The league record was good for first place by a three-match margin. The Cougars advanced to the national championship of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
Returning starters for the 2015 season include Alexa Gray, Amy Boswell, Whitney Young Howard, Ciara Parker and both Camry Godfrey Willardson and Alohi Robins-Hardy who each started as setter for matches last year.
Breakdown by Position
Returning to BYU’s front line are junior middle blockers Howard and Boswell, who finished the season as the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked blockers (total and per set) in the nation, respectively. Howard was named Volleyball Magazine Second-Team All-America and the WCC Defensive Player of the Year. Boswell received AVCA All-America Honorable Mention accolades.
Joining the cast of middles for the season are returner Madeline Graham and frosh Cram.
Senior All-American Gray returns for the 2015 season in the outside hitter position. Gray was named the WCC Player of the Year last season after pacing the team in conference play with 4.11 kills per set.
With the graduation of last year’s senior Jennifer Hamson, the opposite position is open for the taking.
Cosy Burnett, who saw limited action last season as a redshirt freshman, will likely play the position along with freshman Lewis.
BYU returns two starting setters from the 2014 season in Willardson and Robins-Hardy. Willardson started the majority of matches last year before a change was made in the NCAA tournament to give Robins-Hardy a chance at setter.
Additionally, playing at the setter position are two of the newcomers in Lyndie Haddock and Tuileta.
The Cougars return senior Parker as the team’s primary libero. In 2014 she became BYU’s all-time leader in digs in the rally-scoring era by amassing 485, a single-season BYU record.
BYU launches the 2015 season on the road with the Women of Troy Baden Invitational at USC from Aug. 28-29. The Cougars will first face Chicago State, followed by No. 7 North Carolina before hosting No. 22 USC. Both ranked squads made the 2014 NCAA tournament, with the Tar Heels advancing to the regional finals.
The team then hits the road again for the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic. BYU first faces host Saint Louis, followed by Purdue and Arkansas-Pine Bluff from Sept. 4-5.
The Cougars return home on Sept. 9 for the first home match of the season against Idaho State. Two days later Oregon State comes to town for the first of a two-match series played from Sept. 11-12. The Beavers advanced to the regional semifinals of the 2014 NCAA tournament.
BYU then travels north to Salt Lake to face the No. 23 Utes of Utah in the Deseret First Duel on Sept. 17. The Cougars have won each of the past four contests to date. Another in-state match follows at Utah Valley on Sept. 19.
During conference play, the Cougars will face nine extremely competitive squads. In addition to BYU, three other league foes made the NCAA tournament in 2014 – Santa Clara, San Diego and Loyola Marymount.
Conference play beings on the road for the Cougars in 2015, traveling to San Francisco and Santa Clara on Sept. 24 and 26. It ends at home with three-straight matches: Santa Clara (Nov. 19), San Francisco (Nov. 21) and Pepperdine (Nov. 24).
|Aug. 29||at USC||Pac-12 Network||8 p.m. PDT|
|Sept. 9||Idaho State||BYUtv||7 p.m. MDT|
|Sept. 11||Oregon State||BYUtv||7 p.m. MDT|
|Sept. 17||at Utah||Pac-12 Network||7:30 p.m. MDT|
|Sept. 29||Loyola Marymount||ESPNU||7 p.m. MDT|
|Oct. 8||at Pacific||ESPNU||8 p.m. PDT|
|Oct. 15||Gonzaga||BYUtv||7 p.m. MDT|
|Oct. 30||San Diego||BYUtv||5 p.m. MDT|
|Nov. 5||Saint Mary's||BYUtv||7 p.m. MST|
|Nov. 7||Pacific||BYUtv||1 p.m. MST|
|Nov. 19||Santa Clara||BYUtv||7 p.m. MST|
|No. 24||Pepperdine||BYUtv||7 p.m. MST|