LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Tournament Central | Match Notes
The Cowgirl volleyball team will take its undefeated start to the season on the road for the first time, traveling to Spokane, Wash., for the Gonzaga Invitational on Sept. 4-5. They will face the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Montana Grizzlies and Utah Utes.
To open the tournament UW will take on host Gonzaga (2-1) on Friday night at 5 p.m., in the Martin Centre. The Cowgirls will then compete against Utah (3-1) and Montana (2-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m., and 6 p.m., respectively.
Behind stellar defensive play from a number of Cowgirls, including senior libero Allison Waldvogel, UW swept through the Rumble in the Rockies tournament during the opening weekend of the 2015 season. Waldvogel, the espnW national player of the week and MW Defensive Player of the Week was also named MVP of the tournament, while junior’s Kayla Slofkiss and Laura Beach joined her on the All-Tournament team.
“This past weekend was a great way to start,” UW head coach Chad Callihan said. “But we want to focus on the next match. We have one singular focus at the moment and hopefully we are all on the same page with that.”
The Cowgirls upset then-No. 14 Ohio State in front of 2,317 fans in the Arena-Auditorium before defeating South Dakota and Butler to finish off the tournament. Freshman middle blocker Reed Copeland had quite an impressive first weekend as a Cowgirl. She began her career with 12 total blocks against the Buckeyes. Copeland currently sits atop the MW in blocks with 21 total for an average of 1.91 per set. Laura Beach recorded the highest block total for the Cowgirls during the 2014 season with 10 against Utah State. Copeland’s 12 total blocks against the Buckeyes was the highest for a Cowgirl since Erin Kirby record 13 against UC-Riverside in 2013.
“We have Gonzaga, Montana and Utah this weekend and they are all very good defensively,” Callihan added. “It will be a challenge for us to find ways to score against them. We are somewhat familiar with these teams we have ahead so I hope we learn from past experiences and come out ready to play.”
Gonzaga will provide tough competition for UW as they returned all their starters from a team that went 17-12 a year ago. Senior Savannah Blinn led the WCC in kills last year before earning All-America honorable mention. The Bulldogs were picked to finish fourth in the WCC at the beginning of the year and started the 2015 season by hosting the Eighth Annual Northwest Challenge. They went 2-1 over the weekend with their loss coming against No. 10 Washington before defeating Portland State and Boise State. Blinn is the offensive leader for Gonzaga with 50 kills and an average of 4.55 per set. Freshman setter Faith Smith has a team-high 62 assists after the first weekend, while junior outside hitter Emmy Allen has 14 total blocks for the Zags.
Montana began the 2015 campaign under new head coach Brian Doyon at the Falcon Classic. They defeated Air Force and Northeastern before getting swept by New Mexico State. The Griz return five starters from last season with the addition of West Virginia transfer Hannah Sackett. Redshirt senior Capri Richardson started every match for the Griz in 2014 before earning second team all-conference accolades. Sackett leads the Griz offensively with 44 kills for an average of 3.67 per set. Richardson is next in line for UM with 27 kills to go along with 10 total blocks. Redshirt freshman Rachel DeArman has 76 assists, as redshirt junior Sadie Ahearn has 53 digs.
Utah will enter the weekend with a 3-1 record. They claimed victories over Idaho State and Cal State Northridge last weekend at the Utah Classic before defeating Utah State on Tuesday night. Their lone loss came from Lipscomb. Utah was picked to finish 10th in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll with sophomore outside hitter Adora Anae one of the 14 players named to the Preseason All-Pac 12 team. The Utes are led offensively by Anae with 70 kills, averaging 4.67 per set. She is followed by Eliza Katoa with 44 kills and a 3.14 kills per set average. Junior libero Tess Sutton leads the Utah defense with 58 digs on the season for an average of 4.14 per set, as senior setter Kendall Cygan has 102 assists for the Utes so far this year.