BYU women’s volleyball picked to win 4th straight WCC title

Dani Jardine
McKenna Miller spikes the ball during practice. The Cougars opened their season on Friday, Aug. 25 against Saint Louis. (Dani Jardine)

The 10th-ranked BYU women’s volleyball team is off to a 6-0 start after winning the Boise State Classic on Saturday, Sept. 2. The Cougars have won three straight WCC conference titles and were picked by the coaches to win it again this year.

The team officially opened its season on Friday, Aug. 25, at the BYU Invitational with wins over Saint Louis, UT Rio Grande Valley and No. 21 Ohio State.

Junior Veronica Jones-Perry led the team with 37 kills during the tournament while sophomore All-American McKenna Miller had 29.

Jones-Perry spent time with the U.S. Collegiate Women’s National Team this summer.

Miller led the team with 447 kills last season and was named an AVCA Third-Team All-American, AVCA All-Pacific South Region Freshman of the Year and WCC Freshman of the Year.

She was also added to the All-WCC First Team, All-WCC Freshman Team and AVCA All-Pacific South Region First Team.

Coach Heather Olmstead said the team had a great offseason, spending January to April working hard in the weight room, finishing with a productive spring season.

She added the girls also spent time this summer doing some open gyms on their own and working out with their strength coach.

“They did a really good job of working out with Terrell Moore, our strength coach, and they came in the gym ready to go this season,” Olmstead said.

Miller said she put in many hours this summer trying to become a more diverse player.

Hitting has always been one of my strong points, so I’m really been working on trying to play all the way around, so a lot of serve receiving and defense and serving and blocking I guess,” she said. “Trying to round myself out is something I’ve really been trying to work on.”

The Cougars will look to replace six seniors from last year’s team, including All-WCC First Team player Amy Boswell and fellow middle blocker Whitney Howard. Boswell led the team with 148 blocks, while Howard was right behind her with 135.

Several freshmen will be asked to fill those gaps with a great deal of talent and height.

Joining the team are 6-foot-7-inch Sara Hamson of Pleasant Grove; 6-foot-4-inch Kennedy Redding of Bountiful, Utah; 6-foot-3-inch Taylen Ballard of Clovis, California; and 6-foot-2-inch Allison Stapleton of Kennewick, Washington.

Olmstead said these freshmen were recruited for a couple of years, so they’re comfortable with the team and they fit in well with the other players.

“They bring in some good size and some good athleticism to our roster, and so I think they’re just getting used to the routines, kind of getting into the practice routines and I think they’re fitting in nice and they’re playing some good volleyball,” Olmstead said.

2017 women’s volleyball schedule

BYU Invitational (Provo)

  • Aug. 25 vs. Saint Louis (W: 3-0)
  • Aug. 25 vs. UT Rio Grande Valley (W: 3-0)
  • Aug. 26 vs. No. 21 Ohio State (W: 3-1)

Boise State Classic (Boise, ID)

  • Aug. 31 vs. Boise State (W: 3-0)
  • Sep. 1 vs. Missouri (W: 3-1)
  • Sep. 2 vs. Sacramento State (W: 3-0)

Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge (Honolulu, HI)

  • Sep. 7 vs. Hawaii
  • Sep. 8 vs. Nevada
  • Sep. 9 vs. Baylor

Non-conference play

  • Sep. 14 at Utah
  • Sep. 15 vs. Weber State
  • Sep. 16 at Utah Valley

West Coast Conference play

  • Sep. 21 at Santa Clara
  • Sep. 23 at San Francisco
  • Sep. 26 vs. Pepperdine
  • Sep. 30 at San Diego
  • Oct. 5 at Saint Mary’s
  • Oct. 7 at Pacific
  • Oct. 12 vs. Portland
  • Oct. 14 vs. Gonzaga
  • Oct. 19 at Pepperdine
  • Oct. 21 at Loyola Marymount
  • Oct. 27 vs. San Diego
  • Nov. 2 vs. Pacific
  • Nov. 4 vs. Saint Mary’s
  • Nov. 9 at Gonzaga
  • Nov. 11 at Portland
  • Nov. 16 vs. San Francisco
  • Nov. 18 vs. Santa Clara
  • Nov. 21 vs. Loyola Marymount
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