Cougars prepare for weekend matches

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 Tia Withers serves the ball to opponent Gonzaga

The BYU women’s volleyball team is working hard to prepare for their upcoming matches against opponents Portland and San Francisco this weekend.

The Cougars currently stand No. 16 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association rankings and share an overall record of 16-1 with the No. 1 ranked team Penn State. No. 2 Washington is the only team remaining undefeated with a 15-0 record.

In the West Coast Conference, San Diego leads the rankings with an undefeated record of 6-0 followed by BYU and Santa Clara each with a record of 4-1. The Cougars’ overall record is currently the best in the conference.

Head Coach Shawn Olmstead said the team has had good practices this week in preparation for their matches and he is happy with the girls effort and execution.

“We’ve come off of two good days of practice,” Olmstead said. “We’re looking to get better against Portland and be better than we were when we played San Francisco.”

The Cougars will take on Portland in the Smith Fieldhouse Thursday. The Cougars played Portland twice last season, beating them in October 3-1 and again in November with a 3-0 sweep.

Sophomore Tia Withers said the Cougars are looking forward to playing Portland.

“We’re really excited as always,” Withers said. “They’re a good team and they have good coaches.”

Portland currently holds an overall record of 6-14 and has not yet won a match in the conference. Withers said a record is not indicative of what is going to happen in a match and the Cougars are still going to put in their best efforts.

“Their record doesn’t mean anything,” Withers said. “They’ve beaten some very tough teams and taken games off some really good teams in our conference. We’re expecting to play our best game no matter what.”

The Cougars are also preparing to play San Francisco this weekend. San Francisco stands 3-2 in the conference and holds a 12-6 record overall.

Just two weeks ago, BYU beat San Francisco at an away match in California 3-1. The Cougars are hoping to repeat their great performance and gain a victory over San Francisco once again.

Olmstead the Cougars have some obvious things they can work on to get better against San Francisco.

“We’ll reevaluate our match with (San Francisco),” Olmstead said. “And then we’ll see if they have made any changes and go from there.”

Senior Nicole Warner said the last match against San Francisco was frustrating because the Dons were digging everything the Cougars were throwing at them.

“We were giving them our best shots and running our offense the best we we knew how and they were digging it so perfectly,” Warner said. “We were like, ‘Oh this is so frustrating.’ They ran out of the back row, they hit out of the back row, and they put in some tips last time that we didn’t get up, so I’m sure we’ll be looking forward to that as well, and we’ll use that in our defense.”

Warner also said the Cougars need to be patient and stay focused on what is happening in their upcoming match against San Francisco.

“The ball will come to us and roll our way eventually as long as we are focused and aggressive and playing hard,” Warner said.

The match against San Francisco will take place on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse and will be broadcasted on BYUtv. The Cougars will play Portland Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. Live stats for both matches will be available on the Cougars website.

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