Cowgirls Sweep Binghamton, Arizona State in UniWyo Volleyball Invitational
From the Desk of Harry Endicott
LARAMIE – The Wyoming volleyball team picked up a pair of wins Friday on the opening day of the UniWyo Invitational, dropping Binghamton in a 3-0 sweep before fighting off a late surge from Arizona State in a 3-1 victory.
Wyoming (7-1) moves to 2-0 against Pac-12 teams this season, and will be back in action Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. as they close out the UniWyo Invitational against Murray State.
“That’s the challenge, coming back and making sure we’re ready to go (Saturday),” head coach Chad Callihan said. “These wins will be pretty diminished if we don’t come out to play (Saturday). I think Murray State got the girls’ attention.
"They understand they’re a great team that plays great defense. They’ve got a player or two that could play for just about anybody in our conference for sure, so we’ve just got to make sure we’re ready to go tomorrow. We’ve just got to have that same effort and same intensity even though the name on the jersey is different from our opponent.”
Wyoming opened the day with a rout, overwhelming Binghamton in a 3-0 match and outscoring the Bearcats by double digits each set. Halie McArdle and Jackie McBride led the Cowgirls in kills with nine apiece. Setter Cori Aafedt had a nice game as well on the offensive end, recording a match-leading 19 assists and setting a new career high with six service aces—falling just one short of tying the three-set school record. The Cowgirls combined for nine service aces, which counted as a new season high for any game so far this year.
Defensively, the Cowgirls were active at the net with 8.5 total blocks, including eight from senior Reed Copeland. Wyoming spread the wealth with 10 players combining for 32 digs and libero Madi Fields leading the squad with nine.
Wyoming got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 13-3 lead out of the gate before eventually stretching their lead to as large as 22-5 and closing out the set by a score of 25-9. Wyoming hit .423 in the set and held the Bearcats to a -.097 percentage. Four Pokes recorded multiple kills in the set, led by McArdle and Emily Lewis with three each. Copeland added three blocks for the Wyoming defense.
The Cowgirls took the second set, 25-15 behind a stellar .500 hitting percentage and a balanced offensive attack with seven Pokes recording kills. Copeland again added three blocks and Aafedt recorded two of her aces on the frame.
Aafedt added four more aces in what would be the final set, pacing the Pokes to a 25-12 clincher. Again, Wyoming was efficient in the third with a .387 hitting percentage, led by McBride and McArdle who both sniped four kills on .800 clips to help Wyoming put the Bearcats away.
In the evening match, the Cowgirls were able to close out Arizona State in four sets despite a late push from the Sun Devils. Wyoming was led by Reed Copeland, who posted a double-double with 11 kills and 11 blocks in the match for the first double-double by a Poke this season and the second of Copeland’s career—her first came in 2016 with 19 kills and 13 blocks against San Diego State.
In all, four Cowgirls reached double figures in kills, led by McBride with 13, followed by Copeland and McArdle with 11 each, and junior Tara Traphagan with 10. Both Aafedt and sophomore Marissa Harmon eclipsed the 20-assist mark with 23 and 22, respectively. The Pokes turned in a .253 hitting percentage while holding Arizona State to a .192 mark.
“I thought we played well,” Callihan said. “The girls did a nice job of coming out and setting the tone for the match. We went up, 14-10, in the third and I thought we just got a little bit lax, and that brought ASU back into it a little bit. I think when you play a good team—and they’re a good team—you can’t allow them to hang around. We did that a little bit, but it was nice to see us bounce back in the fourth set. I never thought we played fantastic there, but we were efficient offensively. We just did what we had to do to squeak out that last one there, so it was a good win against a good opponent.”
Defensively, Wyoming combined for 17 total blocks. Copeland’s 11 blocks was a new season high and fell just two short of her career best. McBride (6), Traphagan (6) and Lewis (5) each recorded five or more blocks as well. Fields reached double figures in digs with 14 to pace the Cowgirls to their 55 digs as a team.
Wyoming was able to take the first two sets from the Sun Devils handily, posting a .324 hitting percentage after the first two sets.
The Cowgirls got out to an early, 11-5 lead to open the first frame—a set that only saw one tie (1-1) and one lead change—and they never looked back, leading the remainder of the set for the 25-20 win. McBride led the Pokes with six kills in the period on six attacks and no errors. McBride, Traphagan and Faith Waitsman each recorded multiple blocks in the set as well.
The second set was all Cowgirls, as the Pokes coasted to the 25-16 win to put the Sun Devils backs against the wall. Six different Cowgirl players recorded two or more kills in the set, and the Brown and Gold were efficient with a .382 hitting percentage compared to Arizona State’s .075.
After a back-and-forth third set, the Sun Devils were able to pull away late for the 25-20 set win and get on the board. The two traded blows in the fourth as well, combining for 13 ties and six lead changes, but it was the Cowgirls that dug their feet in and came away with the 25-22 win to clinch. Both teams hit over .300 in the frame, but Wyoming was able to outkill Arizona State, 16-14, and outblock them, 4-0, as well to help them get over the hump and wrap up the team’s seventh win of the season.