Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Whitney Bower ready to lead Cougars after valuable freshman experience

The BYU women’s volleyball team is in good hands with the reigning Y Awards Female Rookie of the Year at setter. Whitney Bower dominated on the court in her freshman season, and she’s just getting started.

Bower began playing volleyball at an early age and always knew she wanted to play at BYU.

“I went to BYU camps ever since I was little,” Bower said. “My mom played volleyball at BYU, so I was always into the sport.”

Coming from Skyview High School in Nampa, Idaho, Bower was immediately thrown into BYU’s lineup as a freshman. She started every match and played in every set of the 2019-20 season. While the transition may have been intense, her coaches welcomed her in with open arms.

“The coaches were great,” Bower said. “They were super patient in helping me gain new skills and adjust.”

BYU women’s volleyball head coach Heather Olmstead has led the Cougars deep into the NCAA Tournament in each of her five years at BYU and was a big influence in Bower’s early success.

“She always says, ’we can do hard things,’” said Bower, referring to her coach. “That goes with our situation now with COVID and everything. But also freshman year when I was younger than everyone else, she was like, ‘that doesn’t matter.’ So that spoke volumes to me.”

Whitney Bower sets the ball during BYU’s straight-set win over Weber State Sept. 7. Bower started every match as a freshman. (Hannah Miner)

Bower also looked to her teammates for support, namely Mary Lake and McKenna Miller, who both graduated at the end of last season.

“I watched them my whole freshman year and they were amazing,” Bower said of the senior duo. “They just kept pushing me and encouraging me. Even though I was getting disappointed, they always had my back. They were kind of like my role models, so I’m really grateful for them.”

Bower’s favorite memory of the 2019-2020 season was the victory against No. 2-ranked Stanford on Sept. 21, 2019. She finished with a career-high 18 digs to go along with 37 assists, two kills and a service ace.

“That was the craziest moment of my whole life,” Bower said. “We had each other’s backs and we were just playing for each other. It was awesome.”

Bower’s accolades at BYU include All-WCC Freshman Team, All-WCC First Team, VolleyballMag.com All-America honorable mention, and Shocker Volleyball Classic All-Tournament Team. She had 10 double-doubles last season, the most by a BYU freshman in the rally-scoring era.

Off the court, Bower’s favorite restaurants are Café Rio and anywhere that serves sushi. She also loves to walk her dog and go on drives with her friends when she’s not training.

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