Cowgirls Open MW Volleyball With Road-Home Matches This Week
From the Desk of Harry Endicott
LARAMIE – The Wyoming volleyball team opens Mountain West play this weekend with a home-road split against San Jose State and Nevada.
The Cowgirls (8-4) will hit the road first, heading to San Jose, Calif., for a matchup with the Spartans in their conference opener on Thursday at 7 p.m. MT. The Brown and Gold will then return home to host the Wolfpack on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT. Saturday’s match will be the annual Gold Rush game, which features free t-shirts for the first 500 students.
Wyoming went 12-6 in conference play last season to finish second, marking its highest finish as a member of the MW. The Cowgirls were picked to finish second again in a poll surveying MW coaches prior to the season.
“When you’re thinking about postseason, every weekend matters,” head coach Chad Callihan said. “I’m sure that all 11 MW teams are talking about this as almost a new season, so the theme is probably pretty similar in everyone’s gym. While it may renew things for us, it’s probably doing the same thing for San Jose State and Nevada, so we’ve got to make sure we understand that and understand that when we step into someone else’s gym, we’re going to be getting their best shot.”
The team will look to bounce back from a tough weekend in Ames, Iowa last week. The Cowgirls fell short in matches against Iowa State, Iowa and Syracuse in the Cyclone Classic where libero Madi Fields was named to the all-tournament team with 67 digs and nine assists on the weekend for the Pokes.
“I think one of the things that kind of hurt us was we’re so used to relying on a few key kids, and when they have an off day it almost catches you by surprise,” Callihan said. “We just need to get back to everyone doing their job. We’ve talked before about how we don’t have an individual that can take a match over when other players our struggling, we have to do it as a team. That means everyone has to be on board every day.”
The weekend put the wraps on the 2018 nonconference slate for the Pokes, who claimed two team tournament titles at the Rumble in the Rockies and UniWyo Invitational. Wyoming claimed a number of notable wins over Arizona State, then-No. 15 Colorado and perennial Ohio Valley Conference contender Murray State, among others.
San Jose State enters the weekend at 5-4 following a weekend in Boca Raton, Fla., at the Owls Classic where the Spartans picked up a sweep over South Dakota State following a pair of losses to North Florida and Florida Atlantic. The Spartans are hitting .223 as a team with 13.12 kills per set, both of which rank fifth in the MW.
Thursday’s match against San Jose State will be the 14th meeting between the two programs. The series between the Cowgirls and Spartans dates back to 1983, and the Pokes lead, 9-4. Wyoming has won six consecutive matches against the Spartans, with four-straight coming in sweeps.
Nevada heads into the weekend at 7-4 overall after dropping a couple of consecutive matches to Saint Mary’s and Pacific last week in California. The Wolfpack roster boasts two players with over 100 kills this season in Kayla Afoa (149) and Jamila Minor (136).
The Cowgirls and Wolfpack will be meeting for the 15th time in the two programs’ histories this Saturday. The series is currently 11-3 in favor of the Pokes, with Wyoming winning the last two meetings.