Head coach Shawn Olmstead clasped his hands tightly together as he intently watched his team from the bench. The undefeated BYU women’s volleyball team was mid-match with Saint Mary’s and losing. The Cougars perfect 15-0 record for the season was at stake and the team was fighting desperately to come back out on top, but it was not enough.
The No. 16 Cougars lost their first match of the season to Saint Mary’s last Thursday, ending their undefeated streak. Despite the loss, the Cougars still stand 15-1 with one of the best overall records in the West Coast Conference and are determined to keep up their hard work.
No. 14 Kansas State shares BYU’s record of 15-1, and only two teams, Oregon and Washington, remain undefeated at 13-0.
Olmstead said the season has be going great so far for the Cougars and he likes where the team currently stands.
“We’re in a great spot in terms of our preseason and the tournament’s we’ve played,” Olmstead said. “I love where we’re at in conference. I’m happy and I’m comfortable.”
The Cougars are 3-1 in conference play and have been steadily climbing up in the American Volleyball Association Coaches’ poll rankings each week. The Cougars were not ranked at the beginning of the season, but now stand at No. 16 after their match against Saint Mary’s.
Freshman libero Ciara Parker said the season is going really well for the team and they are figuring out how to work well together especially after their loss.
“We’ve figured out the potential that we have and we’re confident in each other as a team,” Parker said. “I feel really well about where we’re going. Yes, we lost the last match, but we’ve learned a lot about ourselves in that process and we’re ready to move forward and get after it.”
Determined to continue improvement in their performance and ranking, the Cougars are working hard with multiple techniques at practices to prepare for their upcoming matches.
Freshman middle blocker Alexa Gray said the team is working to improve on passing and getting after balls.
“We’re really getting after it in the gym and trying to improve on everything,” Gray said. “It’s going really good.”
Olmstead said he has the team running match-like repetitions during practice so the girls can be put in match-like situations to help prepare for the real deal.
Senior setter Heather Hannemann said the team is also watching videos to help them see where improvements need to be made and allows the team to focus on those improvements in practice.
“We watch videos of ourselves and we see what we need to work on,” Hannemann said. “We really focus on that, and everyone’s really working hard so practices are going really good.”
All of this hard work and practice will go into the Cougars next match against Loyola Marymount Thursday. The Cougars played LMU twice last season and beat them both times 3-2. LMU currently stands 1-2 in the conference with an overall record of 10-6.
Parker said the teams biggest concern right now is their match against LMU.
“The match we’re worried about right now is LMU,” Parker said. “We’re really focused on executing our game plan for that match and then we’re not looking past that. We’re really just focused on our next opponent.”
The Cougars will travel to California to take on Loyola Marymount Thursday at 7 p.m. PDT. Live video streaming and statistics will be available online.