Aug. 2, 2002
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
As the 2002 Cowgirl volleyball season approaches, there is muchexcitement and anticipation surrounding the program. There are severalnew additions to this year's Cowgirl squad, including a new face at thehelm. First year head coach Jim Barnes begins a new era of CowgirlVolleyball as he takes over the program in 2002. The tenth head coach inschool history, Barnes comes to Wyoming after spending the last sixseasons at Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas).
No stranger to success while at Lamar, the Lady Cards had an overallrecord of 128-71 and a 63-35 conference mark. In 2001, his team posted a26-5 record (18-2 conference mark), which led to a Southland ConferenceChampionship and Barnes earning Southland Conference Coach of the Yearhonors. In those six years, he also posted 20-win seasons in four out ofthe six years, along with coaching 13 All-Conference players and oneNewcomer of the Year.
"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," said Barnes. "It has alwaysbeen a goal of mine to coach at the highest level, and now I am going toget that opportunity at the University of Wyoming. I know that Wyominghas a great tradition in volleyball through the years, and I'm excitedabout building on to that tradition. I want to make the entire state ofWyoming proud of our program."
Barnes welcomes back four starters and seven letterwinners, along withthe addition of six newcomers to this year's squad. With all thereturning players that saw significant playing time last season, theCowgirls can only look to improve on a 9-15 overall mark and 5-9conference record.
The 2002 squad will be comprised of six juniors, four sophomores andthree freshmen. But despite his team's youth and inexperience, Barnesfeels confident that this group of players can develop into a verycompetitive team.
"We have a very young group of individuals," said Barnes. "We will haveto play with plenty of effort and intensity to make up for theinexperience, but I believe our team will do just that. Our depth isalso good at every position, which will make for some great competitionin practice, and our focus will be to outwork our opponents."
"I'm most impressed that we have a team that really wants to worktogether and be winners," he added. "They are now learning what it takesto be successful and everyone has responded very well. Our teamwork andeffort will definitely be a strength."
With the loss of one senior Rachel Lau and no seniors on this year'ssquad, Barnes and the Cowgirls will now have to look for otherindividuals to pick up the leadership role. Junior outside hitterMichele Rauter returns as the Cowgirls leading honors candidate, afteraveraging 3.41 kills, 2.36 digs and a .259 hitting percentage. Alsoexpected to make strong contributions will be sophomore rightside hitterSara Maytorena and sophomore setter Amy Doman. Maytorena led theCowgirls as a true freshman in digs with 3.08 per game, which was tenthin the conference, while Doman finished her freshman campaign with 1,011assists, which was third in the conference. Other players in the mixwill be rightside hitter Jill Roslund, setter Katy Brown and liberoMegan Shuster.
"Everyone will have to provide leadership for us to be successful,"said Barnes. "We will also look for some of the upperclassmen likeMichele Rauter, Amy Doman and Sara Maytorena for leadership because theyhave the most experience. I also hope to see some of the newcomers stepup and see what they can provide."
In the off-season, the Cowgirls brought in three junior collegetransfers and three freshmen from the high school level. They includeLeslie Bell (6-1, middle blocker, Las Vegas, Nev.), Liz McDuffie (6-0,middle blocker, Antelope, Calif.), Amanda Miller (5-9, libero, Dix,Neb.), Hana Perlee (5-10, outside hitter, Westport, Wash.), Leah Powers(6-2, middle blocker, Manteca, Calif) and Lindsey Roebken (6-1, outsidehitter, Colorado Springs, Colo.). With the addition of the talentednewcomers, Barnes feels they will not only provide more depth, but eachcould see significant playing time entering the 2002 campaign.
"Overall, I feel we have a very solid group of newcomers, who comefrom very good club programs and junior colleges. We will expect to seea couple of them step in and play right away."
The 2002 schedule will be a challenging one for this young Cowgirl team,as they will hit the road early and often during their pre-conferenceschedule. They open up against Central Michigan, Marquette and ClevelandState, at the Chippewa Classic, on August 30-31, in Mt. Pleasant,Michigan. On Sept. 14-15, they will be at the War Eagle Invitational inAuburn, Alabama with matches against Middle Tennessee State,UNC-Greensboro and Auburn. They continue their non-conference scheduleat the Islander Classic, Sept. 20-21 in Corpus Christi, when they willgo up against Texas Southern, Texas A&M-CC and Texas Pan American, andthen wrapping up the tournament season at the Cornell Big RedInvitational, Sept. 27-28 in Ithaca, N.Y., with match-ups againstNiagara, Seton Hall and Cornell. The Cowgirls will also have severalother non-conference match-ups, which include Denver, 2001 NCAA FinalFour Participant Long Beach State, Idaho State and Weber State, beforeentering MWC play.
"Despite getting a late start, I feel we have put together a verycompetitive schedule. The pre-season will be tough being on the road 15of our first 16 matches, but it will help us learn a great deal aboutour team and prepare for the conference season."
This year, Wyoming will once again be challenged by a very toughMountain West Conference schedule. The Cowgirls will see the likes ofnational powers Brigham Young and Colorado State, along with up andcoming teams Utah, UNLV and San Diego State. Each team will be playingin a home and away series. Wyoming will also face Air Force and NewMexico during the conference season.
"Once again, the Mountain West Conference will be one of the eliteconferences in the nation," said Barnes. "We look to improve as a teamand finish higher than the pre-season polls indicate."
In all, the Cowgirls will be playing five teams that participated inthe NCAA Tournament (Brigham Young, Colorado State, San Diego State,Utah, Long Beach State).
The Mountain West Conference Championships will be hosted this year byColorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colo. Each team in theconference will qualify for the single-elimination tournament, whichbegins on Thursday November 21 and runs through Saturday, November 23.