LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Friday, Aug. 28
4 p.m. MT - South Dakota vs. Butler: Gametracker
6:30 p.m. MT - Wyoming vs. Ohio State: Gametracker | Live Video
Saturday, Aug. 29
9:30 a.m. MT - Butler vs. Ohio State: Gametracker
11: 30 a.m. MT - Wyoming vs. South Dakota: Gametracker | Live Video
5 p.m. MT - Ohio State vs. South Dakota: Gametracker
7 p.m. MT - Wyoming vs. Butler: Gametracker | Live Video
The University of Wyoming Cowgirl volleyball team and head coach Chad Callihan will begin the 2015 season on Friday, Aug. 28, by hosting the Rumble in the Rockies. UW will play the night cap on the first day of the tournament against No. 14 Ohio State in the Arena-Auditorium. Wyoming will then take on South Dakota the following day at 11:30 a.m., and Butler to close out the tournament at 7 p.m. Saturday's matches will be played in the UniWyo Sports Complex.
"There aren't any easy games for us on our schedule," head coach Chad Callihan said. "We start off with a great Big Ten team that will be a true challenge to begin the year, but equally important are the next two matches on Saturday. This first weekend is so much about what we do on our side of the net, we want to focus on ourselves and then once we begin to feel a little more comfortable we can focus more on our opponents."
Friday's season-opening match against the Buckeyes will mark the first time the Cowgirls will play in the Arena-Auditorium since 2002. Wyoming played Border War rival Colorado State on October 25, 2002 in the AA in front of the fourth largest-home crowd in Cowgirl history with 2,231 in attendance. CSU took home a victory, 3-1.
"It's now a matter of going out and executing," Callihan added. "We have worked hard over the last couple of weeks and our looking forward to some tough matches. This coaching staff believes we are headed in the right direction and that this group has the talent and leadership to set the standard."
With six players that had starting roles and nine total letterwinners returning to a team that went 23-8 overall and 12-6 in the Mountain West, the Cowgirls were selected to finish fourth in the MW Preseason Coaches' Poll. Two all-conference selections, senior outside hitter Bridget Shanahan and junior middle blocker Laura Beach, return in 2015. Beach is the MW's top returner in hitting percentage, and finished the season ranked 13th nationally. Shanahan was selected to the 2015 All-MW Preseason Team and is among the top returners in kills, as she ranked third in the MW in 2014. Setter Courtney Chacon finished last season fourth in assists in the MW. Chacon also begins her junior season ninth in assists on the all-time list with 1,732 for her career. Senior Allison Waldvogel is the MW's top returner in digs. She totaled 276 in conference matches last year and had 4.18 digs per set. Other letterwinners returning include senior Kayla Henderson, junior Kayla Slofkiss and sophomores Lily Austin, Marley Taylor and Dani Westfall.
The Ohio State Buckeyes enter the 2015 season ranked 14th in the AVCA Preseason Poll. In 2014, they went 23-12 and 12-8 in the Big Ten before ending their season in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes return 12 letterwinners from a year ago, six that had starting roles. Senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell and junior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe were each All-America Honorable Mention in 2014. Last season, Campbell was second on the team with 346 kills (2.77 per set), and was once named the ESPNW National Player of the Week. Sandbothe led the Buckeyes with 140 blocks (1.16 per set), which was tied for fourth most in school history and also 10th best in the Big Ten.
South Dakota comes to Laramie after a 19-12 overall record and 12-4 mark in the Summit League during the 2014 season. For the upcoming year, the Coyotes were picked to finish fifth in the Summit League and have 10 letterwinners back, four of which were starters. Of those returners is sophomore setter Brittany Jessen and senior outside hitter Sydney Dimke who each earned All-Summit League honors. Jessen was also a member of the All-Freshman team after finishing second in the Summit League in total assists averaging 10.73 per set. Dimke finished second on the team in kills with 298 and 2.50 kills per set.
The Butler Bulldogs come into the 2015 season with nine letterwinners returning, four of which were starters. They finished the 2014 season with a 20-10 overall record and tied for fourth in the BIG EAST with a 12-6 conference record. The Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in the BIG EAST by the coaches in the league and both sophomore setter Makayla Ferguson and redshirt junior middle blocker Kayla Bivins were voted as preseason All-BIG EAST selections. Ferguson was the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and lead the team with 1,178 assists (10.52 per set). Bivins tallied 153 blocks (1.40 per set) a year ago, which ranked 17th in the NCAA and was also the third-highest per set total of any BIG EAST player.