LARAMIE, Wyo. (Oct. 24, 2016) -- Wyoming volleyball returns to the UniWyo Sports Complex this week as the Cowgirls take on Border War rival Colorado State on Tuesday before a contest with Utah State on Thursday. Tuesday’s match against the league-leading Rams is the first of four consecutive home matches. Both matches this week are set to begin at 6:30 p.m. MT.
Wyoming continues to lead the Mountain West in opponent hitting percentage (.153, 922-525-2602) and is second in blocks (197, 2.59 bps) after the first five weeks of conference play. UW has a 13-9 overall record and a 6-3 mark in Mountain West play this season. Colorado State holds the top spot in the league with an 8-1 record in addition to its 14-6 overall record. Utah State is 5-5 in conference action and has won three of its last four matches to bring its overall record to 10-11.
“We executed as well as we had all season during the match on Saturday,” UW head coach Chad Callihan said. “We were locked in offensively and defensively. With a quick turnaround, we hope that can carry over. We know that Colorado State is big and physical, and are able to score from multiple areas. Utah State is a solid team that usually plays us tough, so we understand that Thursday’s match is important as well.”
The Cowgirls split last weekend’s matches on the road. UW fell in five against Fresno State before a clean sweep of San Jose State on Saturday. Senior Laura Beach remains at the top of the conference in hitting percentage (.401, 196-39-392), while sophomore Reed Copeland sits in 11th (.282, 149-55-333). Furthermore, Copeland ranks third in the league with 1.32 blocks per set. Senior Courtney Chacon has directed the offensive attack throughout the season and is ninth in the MW in assists. She is averaging 8.62 assists per set, and against San Jose State became the sixth Cowgirl in program history to record 3,000 during her career. Freshman Madi Fields has held steady defensively for the Brown and Gold. She is tenth in the MW with 2.87 digs per set.
Beach continues to hold the top all-time hitting percentage mark (.369) for UW. She also has 397 career blocks and is ten away from a share of sixth place all-time with Judy Peck (1988-91). Chacon is now 40 digs away from joining Chris Lambert (1983-86) and Jil Robins (1991-94) as the only Cowgirls with at least 3,000 assists and 900 digs, while Kayla Slofkiss needs 42 kills and 30 digs to become the fourth-ever Cowgirl with 1,000 kills and 900 digs.
Colorado State sits atop the MW in a number of categories. As a team, the Rams are first in hitting percentage (.297, 957-291-2242), as well as blocks (222, 3.22 bps). Individually, freshman Katie Oleksak leads the league with an average of 11.59 assists per set. Freshman Kirstie Hillyer and junior Alexandra Poletto are first and second in blocks. Hillyer has 100 total blocks (1.49 bps) for Colorado State while Poletto has 83 (1.36 bps). Prior to Thursday’s defeat at San Jose State, CSU had won 31 consecutive conference matches dating back to Nov. 1, 2014. Colorado State rebounded with a straight-set sweep of Fresno State on Saturday.
Thursday’s contest with Utah State will be the first road match for the Aggies since Oct. 8. Utah State is the only team in the MW with two players in the conference’s top-ten for kills. Senior Kaylie Kamalu-Smith is seventh with 263 (3.51 kps) while junior Lauren Anderson has 260 (3.42 kps) for ninth place. Senior Erica Moscoso is fourth in assists with an average of 10.82 while senior Hannah Gleason is fifth in digs with 316 (3.90 dps).