LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Friday, Sept. 11
10 a.m. - Kansas v. Northern Colorado: Gametracker
12 p.m. - Marquette v. Wyoming: Live Video | Gametracker
5 p.m. - Northern Colorado v. Marquette: Gametracker
7 p.m. - Kansas v. Wyoming: Live Video | Gametracker
Saturday, Sept. 12
10:30 a.m. - Marquette v. Kansas: Gametracker
6:30 a.m. - Northern Colorado v. Wyoming: Live Video | Gametracker
The University of Wyoming Cowgirl volleyball team will host its second tournament of the season this weekend. The Cowgirls will welcome three teams that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago as Kansas, Marquette and Northern Colorado will make their way to Laramie. UW will play at noon on Friday against Marquette before playing the nightcap against No. 22 Kansas at 7 p.m. Wyoming will then close out the tournament on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., against regional rival Northern Colorado.
"Our schedule is fun, but it's daunting," head coach Chad Callihan said. "We go from a challenging week two to probably a more challenging week three. It helps us stay fresher mentally and gives us another chance to see where we stack up within the nation."
Friday's match with the Golden Eagles will be the first meeting between the two since 2003 at the Montana State Wingate Invitational. The Jayhawks last saw UW at the Kansas Jayhawk Classic in 2012, while Northern Colorado faced the Cowgirls last season for the first time since 2011.
"Kansas is tough and will be another ranked opponent for us," Callihan added. "Marquette is receiving votes and we think Northern Colorado is incredibly talented and play the game differently than those first two teams so it will be a nice challenge for us just in terms of style of play."
UW went 2-1 this past weekend at the Gonzaga Invitational, with the two victories against Utah and Montana. Junior's Laura Beach and Kayla Slofkiss were each named to the All-Tournament team. Slofkiss recorded her third double-double against Montana, as Beach tied a career-high with 17 kills against the Utes. Freshman Cori Aafedt saw her first action as a Cowgirl over the weekend and did a tremendous job fitting into the lineup. She recorded a double-double against Utah with a team-high 20 assists and 17 digs.
"Cori (Aafedt) was kind of thrown into the lineup on short notice but I think she responded really well. Against Utah she had a fantastic performance, and was really instrumental defensively. She and Courtney (Chacon) did a great job of not allowing much space for Utah to score."
Senior Allison Waldvogel set a Cowgirl record in four sets with 35 digs against Utah on way to picking up her second straight MW Defensive Player of the Week award. She leads UW with 117 digs through six matches. Freshman middle blocker Reed Copeland continues to lead the MW in blocking, as she has a total of 39 on the season for an average of 1.77 per set. Chacon set a season-high with 28 assists in the win over Montana and leads the team with 116 on the young season, while Beach and Slofkiss have the most kills for the Cowgirls with 57 and 56, respectively.
"Allison (Waldvogel) likes the challenge of playing some of the bigger attackers and wants to prove that she can stop them. She enjoys that challenge. I also think that our team blocking schemes have improved, and our overall blocking has been much better."
The Kansas Jayhawks moved into the No. 22 ranking in the AVCA Coaches' Poll this week. They are 6-0 on the season after sweeping through the Kansas Invitational this past weekend. KU defeated Duke, Western Illinois and UMKC in straight sets. The Jayhawks are led by sophomore right side hitter Kelsie Payne with 78 kills. Payne ranked top-10 in blocks and attacking percentage in the Big 12 last season. Sophomore setter Ainise Havili was honorable mention AVCA All-American a year ago and has 227 assists this year, while junior libero Cassie Wait leads KU defensively with 99 digs.
Marquette is once again receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches' Poll. The Golden Eagles are 5-1 on the season that includes a win over then-21st ranked Iowa State. They most recently defeated Missouri State and Miami at the Dr. Jo Wynn Invitational, hosted by Missouri State. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Taylor Louis has a team-high 144 kills, with a career-high 30 against Missouri State. Junior libero Lauren Houg has 130 digs, as redshirt junior Sara Blaiser has 279 assists for the Golden Eagles.
Northern Colorado returned all but three players from last season that went 22-11 and made its fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears have defeated Western Michigan and Delaware so far this season as senior outside hitter Kendra Cunningham leads them with 87 kills. Junior setter Ashley Guthrie has 223 digs for the bears through their first six games, while senior libero Meagan Garcia is the team leader with 106 digs for UNC. Garcia is also the cousin of Cowgirls' Chacon and Aafedt. Chacon and Garcia won a state championship for Valley High School in Platteville, Colo., in 2010.