Volleyball Opens Practice, Intra-Squad Match Open to Public at AA Aug. 18

LARAMIE -- The Cowgirl volleyball team opened practice for the 2018 season at the UniWyoSports Complex Wednesday in preparation for an exhibition game at Northern Colorado Aug. 17, and the brown and gold Scrimmage in Laramie the next day.

The scrimmage will be in the Arena-Auditorium, and open to the public.

“It’s nice to have everybody back and nice to get started,” head coach Chad Callihan said. “This is a fun group to work with, so I always enjoy getting back in the gym with them. I thought that we did some good things. I think we have some depth we haven’t had in a while, so I’m very encouraged.”

The Cowgirls will begin the regular season by welcoming Colorado, North Florida and Oral Roberts to Laramie for the Rumble in the Rockies non-conference tournament beginning Aug. 24.

“We need to see a lot (in the next couple of weeks),” Callihan said. “Our preseason is short, so we have a lot to try and cram in. We just want to be playing as well as we can be, and we want the girls to be comfortable. I think that’s the big thing is them developing some confidence in what they’re doing and that will go a long ways. I don’t think anybody is playing their best ball in week one, so we just want to make sure we’re playing at a high-enough level and having some confidence when we’re out there on the court.”

Callihan enters his sixth year at the helm of the program following a historic 2017 season in which his Cowgirls went 17-14 overall and 12-6 in the Mountain West. Wyoming finished second in the conference—its highest finish as a member of the MW—and competed in the 2017 National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC). The NIVC was the fifth post-season appearance in history for Wyoming Volleyball, the first time since 1994. 

The Cowgirls return nine letterwinners from the 2017 season, including six starters plus the libero. Among the list of returners are 2017 Mountain West honorees Jackie McBride, Tara Traphagan and Marissa Harmon.  McBride and Traphagan were named All-MW for the first time in their careers. Harmon joined them as honorable mention All-MW and MW Freshman of the Year.

Along with a host of returners, Wyoming welcomes libero Jaiden Chase, outside hitter Kailey McMahon, setter Marissa Hines, middle blocker Carlie Fikse and defensive specialist Kiahlei Yaste for the 2018 season.

While it marked the first official practice of the 2018 season, Wednesday was not the first time this group of Cowgirls was on the floor together. The team took a 12-day European tour in June that included trips to Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and Italy to face off with various club and international teams.

“I think there’s a little bit more comfort (this fall because of the Europe trip),” Callihan said. “I think it was great for the newcomers to be able to come in, get acclimated and spend some time with not only the coaching staff but their teammates. I think there’s a comfort level they wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t had that opportunity. It gave them a chance to learn some of the systems and things before we headed over there.

“It was a great opportunity to get a bit of a jump start on the season, and puts us in a position where maybe we don’t feel like we have to go quite as hard or cram quite as much in because we got to put a little bit of that base in before we left.”

The 2018 Cowgirls will compete against four teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and three that received invites to the NIVC Tournament a season ago.

UW will play 15 matches inside the friendly confines of the UniWyo Sports Complex, including nine Mountain West matches. Additionally, UW will host two non-conference tournaments, the Rumble in the Rockies (Aug. 24-25) and UniWyo Invite (Sept. 7-8).