LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Volleyball team (6-0 overall) remained undefeated with two victories to open up the UniWyo Cowgirl Classic on Friday. The Cowgirls swept South Alabama in three sets (25-16, 25-13, 25-20) while closing out the day with a four-set win (25-16, 20-25, 25-18, 25-21) over Ball State (3-2 overall). The Cowgirls have now won 13-straight matches dating back to last season, which is tied for the longest win streak in school history dating back to 1989. The crowd of 1,135 against Ball State was also the largest since Oct. 10, 2003 against Colorado State with 1,389.
In the first set against South Alabama, the Cowgirls scored the first four of five points to take the early lead, 4-1. A kill from the Jaguars gave them their second point of the set, which was answered with a 6-2 run by UW to put them ahead 10-4. The teams played fairly even over the next nine points as USA closed the gap to five, 14-9. Wyoming responded with a 6-2 run to give them a nine-point advantage, 20-11. South Alabama scored four unanswered to close the gap to five, 20-15, until a kill from Shanahan ended the scoring streak. They would finish up the set allowing one score from USA to take it 25-16.
The Jaguars scored the first two points of the second set, which was answered with the next four straight points from to take the lead 4-2. After a kill by Jessica Lewis, the Cowgirls went on a 7-2 run to extend the lead to seven, 11-4. Two straight kills by USA stopped the run, but Wyoming extended the lead to double-figures 18-8. It was never close as UW won the set 25-13 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Wyoming continued to dominate offensively as they took a commanding 13-3 lead in the third set. Finally, a kill from Mechell Daniel started a small run for the Jaguars as they tried to chip away at the Cowgirl lead. With the score 18-9 in favor of UW, South Alabama went on a 10-4 run making it a three-point set, 22-19. But the Cowgirls pulled out the 25-20 win.
"It's a totally different environment playing at home from on the road. You could tell that the players seemed a little tight and it took us a while to settle in, but we did a good job of managing the match. The one thing we've done all season is play low error even if we aren't playing our best which allows us to stick around in matches. That puts pressure on our opponents because we aren't giving anything away.
"I'm sure South Alabama hadn't seen a block quite as big as we put up even though we have some room for improvement. Our serving game was a big key today, we did a nice job hitting our zones and putting pressure on their serve/receive. We've been fortunate so far that we can run a diverse offense. All the players can score from a variety of zones, which allows us to run some different things and make it difficult for our opponent."
Bridget Shanahan paced the way for the Cowgirls with 12 kills and two blocks. Erin Kirby hit a team high .600 (9-0-15) while adding five block assists. Lily Austin finished the match with 17 digs and Courtney Chacon added 34 assists. UW hit .320 (43-12-97) for the match and had six total blocks.
South Alabama was led by Jessica Lewis with 16 kills and four digs. The Jaguars struggled hitting only .050 (29-24-100) for the match.
In the second match of the day, the Cowgirls jumped out early 5-2 on Ball State. The Cardinals responded with five of the next six points to gain their first lead of the match, 7-6. Wyoming responded with a 7-1 run to give them a 13-8 advantage. A kill by Mackenzie Kitchel would stop the Ball State scoreless streak but the Cowgirls increased the lead back to six, 18-12. Wyoming would hold the Cardinals to just four points down the stretch to win the first set, 25-16. Wyoming hit .367 (12-1-30) on the set compared to Ball State with a -.056 (9-11-36) hitting percentage.
Ball State stormed out in the following set to take a 6-2 advantage. Three straight points from UW closed the gap to one, 6-5, but the Cardinals quickly increased the lead back to six, 13-7. A kill from Shanahan stopped the drought for UW and they would close the gap to two, 15-13. Unfortunately, the Cowgirls weren't able to overcome the deficit as they would fall in the set, 25-20.
It was back and forth early in the third set until the Cowgirls took a slight 7-4 advantage. Ball State scored three straight to tie it up and the two teams matched the next four points. With it all even at nine, a small run from Wyoming gave them a 13-9 advantage. The Cardinals pulled to within one, 14-13, but the Cowgirls were able to hold off any major runs by Ball State. They closed out the set on a 9-5 run to win 25-18 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The momentum continued to be on the Cowgirls side as they took an 8-2 lead over Ball State in the fourth set. Wyoming would maintain a comfortable lead over the next several points until a run from Ball State made it a three-point set, 16-13. Out of a timeout, Ball State inched closer making it a one point contest, 16-15, and would eventually tie it up at 17. Wyoming responded with a 5-2 run to put them ahead by three, 22-19. The Cowgirls took the set 25-21.
Three Cowgirls finished the night in double-figure kills led by Erin Kirby and Bridget Shanahan. They each finished with a team-high 16 kills, while Kirby hit .609 (16-2-23) on the night. Sophomore Laura Beach recorded 10 kills and hit .600 (10-1-15). Kayla Slofkiss and Courtney Chacon each had 12 digs. Wyoming hit .309 (54-16-123) for the match and out blocked Ball State 12.5-6.0.
Ball State was led by Hayley Benson with nine kills and three blocks followed by three players with seven kills each. The Cardinals hit .098 (47-34-132) for the match.
"I thought the players did a great job and the crowd was fantastic," Callihan said. "I think we got a little over excited with how big that crowd was and we haven't played in an environment like that this season. We made some uncharacteristic errors because we were overly excited. We did a good job of managing it and taking advantage of opportunities when we needed them. I like the direction we are headed.
"We talked about that prior to this match Laura (Beach) hasn't had a bad match yet. We've had a few kids play well, but she has been exceptional and a steady force. She continued with that tonight and Ball State tried everything they could to contain her. A lot of credit to her and all the hard work she has put into it."
The Cowgirls will close out the weekend tomorrow against the Montana Griz. The match is set for 12:00 p.m. in the UniWyo Sports Complex.