The University of Wyoming Cowgirl volleyball team hits the road once again this weekend, traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the 12th annual Sports Imports D.C. Koehl Classic. The Cowgirls will face off against No. 10 BYU at 8:00 a.m., and No. 11 Ohio State at 5:30 p.m., on Friday and LIU Brooklyn at 1:00 p.m., on Saturday in the Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus, as the arena is serving as a precursor for the 2016 NCAA Championship.
Wyoming won its home opener against North Dakota State on Monday evening, after falling in its first three matches of the season at the Purdue Mortar Board Premier. It was UW’s fifth-consecutive home opening win.
“We know this weekend will be another challenge,” UW head coach Chad Callihan said. “I think last week gave us a good idea of where we are at and what areas we will need improvement in. In order for us to compete at that level, which we can, we have to clean up our play and not give anything away. Against North Dakota State, we were much better offensively and I think we can build off of that. Heading into this weekend, we have a better understanding of what is going to be on the other side of the net and how we want to respond when they begin to apply pressure. ”
Through four games this season, the Cowgirls are led offensively by senior Kayla Slofkiss with 34 kills (2.62 kps). She posted a season-high 11 against NDSU. Sophomore Emily Lewis is close behind with 31 total kills (2.38 kps). Senior Laura Beach has 27 kills (2.08 kps) for UW and is tenth in the Mountain West with a .362 hitting percentage. Senior Courtney Chacon has held the setting responsibilities for the most part so far this year. She is eighth in the MW with 100 assists and an average of 7.69 per set. Junior Lily Austin was named to the All-Tournament team at the Purdue Mortar Board Premier and leads UW with 52 digs. She is tied seventh in the conference averaging 4.00 per set.
The tenth-ranked BYU Cougars are 3-0 on the young season. They won the BYU Invitational this past weekend after defeating Utah Valley, Rice and Cal Poly. Freshman outside hitter McKenna Miller has 51 kills (4.64 kps) for BYU after posting 25 against Rice. Sophomore setter Lyndie Haddock has 122 assists for BYU, while Mary Lake leads the team with 51 digs. Miller was named the tournament MVP this past weekend, while Haddock and senior middle blocker Amy Boswell were also added to the all-tournament team.
No. 11 Ohio State is off to a 3-0 start to the season thanks in part to middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe. The Buckeye senior earned MVP honors at the North Texas Challenge, which included a victory over No. 16 Texas A&M. She has 45 kills (4.09 p/s) and ten total blocks for Ohio State. Sophomore setter Taylor Hughes has recorded 110 assists for the Buckeyes heading into the second weekend of play. Last season, Sandbothe recorded 12 kills and three blocks for Ohio State against Wyoming, while Hughes had a match-high 36 assists.
LIU Brooklyn was picked to finish second in the NEC and are the five-time reigning regular season champions. LIU Brooklyn is coming off a 0-3 weekend at the Boston College Invitational, where the Blackbirds fell to Fresno State and twice to host Boston College. On the season, LIU Brooklyn is led by senior outside hitter Alex Larsen with 32 kills (2.67 p/s), and junior outside hitter Alex Lilliquist with 28 (2.80 p/s). Senior setter Nicole Hopton has recorded 82 assists on the year, while freshman middle blocker Filippa Hansson has a team-high 15 blocks.
Having played No. 24 Purdue and No. 23 Kentucky last week, this weekend will mark the first time since 2000 that UW will face at least four different ranked teams during its season. Additionally, this is the first-ever trip to Columbus for the Cowgirls.
For this weekend, there will be no live video for the event due to it occurring off-campus at Nationwide Arena in anticipation of the NCAA Championship in December. GameTracker live stats links are provided above.