Week of Opportunity Upcoming For BYU Volleyball
PROVO -- Opportunity is the word of the week for the BYU women’s volleyball team as the Cougars (9-8, 2-6 MWC) hope to bounce back from their recent struggles with two upcoming matches. BYU will first try to move up in the Mountain West Conference standings with a victory at Air Force on Wednesday before looking to make a national statement at No. 3 Texas on Friday.
“We have made some significant improvements in our systems and are playing with so much more energy and passion than we have been,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “This week is another opportunity for us to break through both in the conference and on a national level.”
BYU is coming off a three-set loss to in-state rival Utah on Friday, the Cougars’ fifth-straight loss. Senior Bryn Porter and junior Kayla Walker both posted double-digit kills in the match while junior Morgan Lloyd and sophomore Melissa Lake tallied double-digit digs. However, the Cougars could not overcome 19.5 Utah team blocks, including 16 from Lori Baird.
The Air Force Falcons are 5-16 overall and 0-8 in Mountain West Conference play so far this year after dropping nine of their last 10 matches. That stretch includes a three-set loss at BYU on Sept. 27. The Falcons have played their last four matches on the road, but four of their five wins this year have come in Clune Arena . AFA is led by senior middle blocker Jasamine Pettie at 2.40 kills per set. She is followed by sophomore Nichole Stilwell at 2.14 kps. True freshman Victoria Martinez boasts a team-best 3.01 digs per set, which also ranks eighth in the MWC. Junior Michell Harrington paces the Falcons with 0.85 blocks per set and has posted 10 solo blocks on the year. BYU swept AFA earlier this season and now owns a 21-1 overall record against the Falcons.
The Texas Longhorns are ranked No. 3 in the nation and are 14-2 on the year and 7-0 in Big 12 play with their only losses coming against fellow top-five teams Nebraska and Stanford. Texas also boasts a 22-match home win streak and swept Utah earlier this season. The Longhorns are led by junior outside hitter Destinee Hooker with 4.30 kills per set. Her 18 kills against Missouri pushed her career total to 1,056 and moved her into 15th place all-time at Texas. Three Longhorns follow Hooker averaging between two and three kps, including senior middle blocker Pauren Paolini, who paces the team with a .494 hitting percentage and 0.93 blocks per set. She recorded her 357th total block of her career against Mizzou, moving her into 13th place on Texas’ all-time total block list. Junior libero Heather Kisner leads the team with 4.39 digs per set. As a team, the Longhorns outperform their opponents in every statistical category. BYU leads the all-time series with Texas, 9-5.
Wednesday’s match against Air Force will begin at 7 p.m. while the BYU-Texas contest will get started at 6:30 p.m. CT (5:30 p.m. MT). Both matches will be available online via GameTracker and CSTV All-Access. Links to both options can be found by going to the schedule page of the BYU women’s volleyball homepage at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/