Volleyball to play pink match in Portland

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The football team is not the only BYU squad traveling up to Oregon this weekend.  In a breast cancer awareness match, the women’s volleyball team will look to seal its fourth conference victory on Saturday.

BYU (14-5) lost to the West Coast Conference leaders, Pepperdine, last Saturday and are hoping to restore their confidence and momentum.

“We are always working on our overall game, but there are things from the Pepperdine match that we knew we needed to work on,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We got overcome by the moment and we were not crisp down the stretch and we can’t do that against Portland.”

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Heather Hannemann sets up the ball while Jennifer Hamson stands at the ready in a match against Santa Clara.

Despite their 1-5 conference record (7-12 overall), the hosting Pilots are resilient and will work to end their two-game losing streak.

“They have had some good wins over good opponents like San Francisco,” Olmstead said. “They are a good team in our conference and have been established. Their record may not be the same as ours, but they are in a good spot.”

The Cougars only have one match this week, so the team had more time to practice and prepare for Saturday’s match.

“We are focusing on specific things and really keying in on defense,” freshman defensive specialist Tia Withers said. “We are doing a lot of eye work and practice makes perfect on the eye work.”

BYU has been on the road since Oct. 6 and will not return to play in Provo until Oct. 20.  The match against Portland will be the second of three consecutive away games.

“There has been a difference in the past couple weekends being on the road and the results we have had, but it doens’t have to be that way,” Withers said. “We are working on changing our attitude when we go out of town. Playing out of state is tough, but it is something you have to do.”

Withers is from the Portland area and was heavily recruited by the Pilots, but turned down a scholarship offer to attend BYU.

“I really wanted to be at a school where it was easy to follow the Gospel and be surrounded with people that have the same values as me,” Withers said. “I was a minority in my high school and I wanted to be around people who love to do what I love to do, play volleyball, and were good people that I could base my strength off of.”

That strength will be the key to the Cougars’ success in their upcoming matches.

“It all comes down to working hard in practice every day,” Withers said. “We can’t let our mistakes get us down.”

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