The Cougar women’s volleyball team is competing in its first ever West Coast Conference match since leaving the Mountain West Conference last season, during which BYU hopes to take down St. Mary’s in the inaugural face-off.
“We’re excited about being in the West Coast Conference, but it will be a different style of play than we have faced in the past,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “There are only two schools in the conference that are not from California so we have to step up to the challenge and compete.”
The Cougars wrapped up six matches on the road and ended with a win over Cal State Northridge.
BYU (11-3) faced conference rival St. Mary’s in the Nike Invitational at the start of the season. The Gaels defeated the Cougars in the first match-up 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 31-29), but both teams tied for second overall in the tournament.
“The first time we played St. Mary’s at the start of the season it was a struggle,” Olmstead said, “but we have watched lots of film and hopefully that will help us make the necessary adjustments both mentally and physically. The kids out in California generally played one sport and played a lot of club ball in high school, whereas most of our athletes played multiple sports. It will be tough and we have to step up to the challenge.”
St. Mary’s (6-6) lost to UC Santa Barbara at the start of the season and recently lost to Kansas State. The Cougars beat the Gauchos 3-1 and took down the Wildcats 3-0.
“We are a better team now than when we played St. Mary’s the first time, however, we expect that they are as well,” Olmstead said. “We know what we have to focus on and we worked on it in practice this week so that we can come out and play hard.”
BYU is led by sophomore Jennifer Hamson, who has 202 kills this season and is followed by senior Christie Carpenter who has 99. Setter Heather Hannemann is having a breakthrough season and is one assist away from hitting 500. Junior Kendalyn Hartsock leads the Cougars in digs with 223.
The match will begin at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse; however the broadcast of the match will be delayed due to Jimmer’s All-Star exhibition basketball game but will be played on BYUtv at 10 p.m. Fans may stream the match and live stats online.