BYU women’s volleyball team hits the road again

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 Nicole Warner and Alexa Gray celebrate their victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs Sept. 22. [Sarah Hill]
The No. 18 BYU women’s volleyball team is preparing to hit the road once again this week. BYU will travel to Washington Thursday to take on Gonzaga and then head to Oregon Saturday to face off against Portland.

The Cougars recently returned from their last match in California, where BYU was defeated by Santa Clara. Head Coach Shawn Olmstead said it is important for the Cougars to do well this weekend, especially on the road.

“We lost on the road, so it’s important that we rebound on the road,” Olmstead said. “That’s kind of the way that it all comes down because after a loss you’ve got to be better and you’ve got to learn from it, and hopefully we can learn on the road.”

On Monday BYU moved to No. 18 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll rankings, and three Cougars received top-25 rankings in NCAA stats. Senior Nicole Warner was ranked No. 3 for blocks per set with 1.68, and senior Heather Hannemann came in at No. 20 for assists per set with 11.36. Junior Jennifer Hamson moved to No. 21 for points per set with 4.91.

BYU last met Gonzaga on Sept. 27 in the Smith Fieldhouse, where the Cougars took down the Bulldogs in a quick 3-0 sweep. Despite the win, the Cougars are working hard and staying focused to prepare for the upcoming match. Gonzaga currently stands 1-8 in the WCC and 9-13 overall.

Olmstead said the Cougars must remain focused even though they have beaten Gonzaga. Gonzaga will be looking to avenge its loss.

“It gives them a little more hunger and fight to want to beat us,” Olmstead said. “And we’ve got to look at it as, ‘Okay, we’ve been through this road, let’s go and do it again.’”

On Saturday the Cougars will head to Oregon to take on Portland. BYU played Portland last on Oct. 11 in the Smith Fieldhouse and also beat the team in a 3-0 sweep. Portland stands 0-9 in the WCC and 6-17 overall.

Warner said Portland is a good team and can never be overlooked despite its record.

“For the track record in the West Coast Conference, everyone is really good,” Warner said. “So when you take into account that everyone is super competitive and you have four teams in the top 25, I don’t discount a team like Portland that hasn’t won yet. I don’t think you can overlook any teams in this conference.”

Freshman Kimberly Dahl said the Cougars are looking forward to coming home from the road trip with more wins and are working hard at practice to accomplish that goal.

“It’s super important at this point in the season that we win every single game,” Dahl said. “At practice we’re doing the basics and perfecting what we’re good at as a team.”

The match against Gonzaga will take place Thursday at 6 p.m. at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane. Live video streaming and live stats can be found on the Gonzaga schedule page.

The Portland v. BYU match will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m. PDT in Portland, Oregon at the Chiles Center. Live video streaming and live stats can be found on Portland’s Game Central page.

Live updates for the matches can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball Facebook and Twitter pages. Results will also be posted to the Cougars’ athletics website following the match.

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