Cowgirls Close Out a Perfect 3-0 Rumble in the Rockies Beating Colorado
LARAMIE -- Led by tournament MVP Jackie McBride, the Cowgirls volleyball team upset 15th-ranked Colorado in the Rumble in the Rockies championship match. 3 sets to 2. The Cowgirls won the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-21. Colorado came back in the next two by scores of 25-21 and 25-16, but the Cowgirls won the tiebreaker 15-13.
The win over Colorado in the first match between the schools since 2013 came after the Cowgirls and Colorado swept their two matches on Friday, beating both Oral Roberts and Northern Florida.
The Cowgirls beat Colorado for the ninth time in 23 meetings.
The Cowgirls (3-0) outscored the Buffaloes in kills, 69-58, and hit a .279 percentage to Colorado’s .263. Senior Emily Lewis and freshman KC McMahon led the Cowgirls with 15 kills each, followed closely by Jackie McBride’s 14. Wyoming had two players over 20 assists in Cori Aafedt (26) and Marissa Harmon (24), with Aafedt narrowly missing a double-double stacking nine digs on the night. On the defensive end, senior Reed Copeland recorded six blocks, while libero Madi Fields added 13 digs.
Cowgirls McBride, Lewis and Halie McArdle joined McBride on the all-tournament team. Also named to the all-tournament team were Brynna DeLuzio and Justine Spann of Colorado, Bria Bergman of Oral Roberts and Taryn Griffey of North Florida.
“I just like this group,” head coach Chad Callihan said. “I think they’ve got something special to them and I think they’ve got a chance to do some really great things this season, and this was probably one of the really big steps for us.”
Wyoming got off to a hot start, locking up an early, 2-0 lead over the Buffs with wins in the opening two sets. In the first, the Pokes seized a 5-1 lead that eventually ballooned to 16-9 midway through the frame. Colorado would push to within one point five times, but Wyoming remained poised late to pull out the 25-23 set victory. Lewis and McArdle led the way for the Cowgirl attack, both recording four kills in the set with Aafedt assisting on seven kills. The Wyoming defense stepped up big in the period as well, blocking six Buff attacks, led by Copeland’s four.
The Cowgirls recorded a stifling .517 hitting percentage in the second set to overwhelm the Buffs and take the frame, 25-21. Five Wyoming players recorded multiple kills, led by another four from Lewis and three from McBride, Copeland and McMahon.
“I think (the first two sets) were a good momentum builder for our team,” Copeland said. “One thing we’ve been stressing is working on our blocking and going back to basics, and I think being able to do that really changed the momentum for our team.”
Colorado responded in the third and fourth sets, taking them, 25-21, and 25-16, respectively to force a decisive fifth set.
In the final frame, the Pokes jumped out to a 6-1 lead to take control early; however, the Buffs battled to get back to within two a couple of times before tying it up at 13-all. After Colorado’s Lillie Klemmer faulted on a service error, the Cowgirls found themselves with match point leading, 14-13. With newcomer Kiahlei Yaste on serve in her first collegiate appearance, it was McMahon that recorded the final kill off a Harmon assist to finish off the win.
“We’re a very strong offensive team,” McBride said. “That’s something that comes naturally to us, so we really stressed defense since Colorado is a great opponent. They have a big block and we did struggle a little bit there…I think we did a really good job of adjusting our shots. If you don’t have the line swing, swing cross, change it up and have some confidence in that.”
McMahon and McBride stepped up big in the fifth frame, as McMahon sniped four kills on five attacks with no errors and McBride recorded five on eight attacks. Harmon recorded five assists in the period.
“(McMahon) had a heck of a night,” Callihan said. “Sometimes you get those young kids and they just don’t know any better, so they just go out and play. I think some of the older kids start to overthink it sometimes…They put a lot into this and they don’t want to mess up, so sometimes they can get tight. She didn’t have anything to fear, she’s just here to play.”
With the win clinched, Wyoming now turns its attention to next weekend when it will travel to face Portland, LIU Brooklyn and Montana State in tournament action in Portland, Ore. Action at the event begins on Friday.