LARAMIE, Wyo. (Aug. 22, 2018) â€“ The Wyoming Cowgirl volleyball team opens up its 2018 season this weekend at the UW Arena-Auditorium when it hosts the Rumble in the Rockies beginning on Friday.
The Cowgirls will serve up their first match of the weekend on Friday at 12 p.m. MT against North Florida, followed by a 7 p.m. contest against Oral Roberts. The Brown and Gold will close out the event on Sunday at 7 p.m. against No. 15 Colorado.
Free donuts will be available for fans in attendance at the match between the Cowgirls and North Florida on Friday. The following match against Oral Roberts features $1 youth tickets, with UNIWYO Movie Night following the match. Finally, the first 1,000 students in attendance for Saturdayâ€™s match against Colorado will receive a free t-shirt. For ticket information, visit gowyo.com/tickets.
â€œThe players enjoy playing in (the Arena-Auditorium),â€ head coach Chad Callihan said. â€œWe just need to make sure we get people in there to support them and have a good, rowdy crowdâ€¦Itâ€™s got a fun feel to it in there when the gym is all set. Hopefully we get a good crowd in there and they enjoy what theyâ€™re seeing. I think we have a good team and a good product for people to see, and hopefully we can get the community behind them.â€
In addition to single game tickets, season tickets for the 2018 campaign are still available as well. The Cowgirls broke the season ticket record for the fifth-straight year earlier this week.
Wyoming is coming off a win at Northern Colorado last Friday in exhibition action where the Cowgirls were able to put the Bears away in three sets at Bank of Colorado Arena. In that match, libero Madi Fields posted a double-double on the night with 13 digs and 10 assists. Senior Emily Lewis finished the night in double-figure kills with 11, while Cori Aafedt led the Pokes in assists with 13. As a team, Wyoming posted a .441 hitting percentage, while holding the Bears to .200.
â€œWe were pretty pleased with what we saw in the exhibition match at Northern Colorado,â€ Callihan said. â€œWe still need to get our defense a little bit stronger. Hopefully that comes here in the next week or so. I also think a part of that is just getting our legs back. Weâ€™ve been training pretty hard for a couple of weeks.â€
The Cowgirls will look to build off a 2017 season in which they finished at 17-14 overall with a 12-6 record in Mountain West action to finish second in the conference. Wyoming was selected to the 2017 National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) which marked the first postseason selection for UW since 1994. It was the fifth postseason appearance in the history of Wyoming volleyball.
Wyoming was picked to finish second in the Mountain West yet again in 2018, according to a poll by the leagueâ€™s coaches released last week. The Pokes return nine letterwinners from the 2017 squad. Among those returners are all six starters plus the libero from a season ago, including All-MW honorees Tara Traphagan and Jackie McBride, as well as MW Freshman of the Year and honorable mention All-MW recipient Marissa Harmon.
Colorado enters the 2018 season ranked 15th in the nation and coming off of a 24-10 overall record last year, including a run to the NCAA Sweet 16 and a 12-8 conference mark to finish fifth in the Pac-12. The Buffs return five starters and seven other players from a year ago, including AVCA Second Team All-American Alexa Smith. Head coach Jesse Mahoney is entering her third year at the helm of the Colorado program with a 38-26 record. Saturday will be the first time since 2013 that the two teams have met. Wyoming won that match, 3-2, in Laramie.
North Florida posted a 13-19 overall record last season with a 5-9 record in Atlantic Sun matches. The Ospreys finished fifth in the ASUN and return eight players from a year ago. Head coach Kristen Wright is entering her first year at North Florida.
Oral Roberts is coming off a 15-14 overall record in 2017 with an 11-3 record in Summit League play to finish second. The Golden Eagles reached the postseason for the first time since 2006 with an appearance in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. Oral Roberts returns two starters plus its libero for the 2018 campaign. Head coach Sheera Sirola enters her 16th year with the program, racking up a 270-193 overall record.
Following this weekendâ€™s home tournament, the Cowgirls will travel to Portland, Ore., to compete at the University of Portlandâ€™s tournament featuring Portland, LIU Brooklyn and Montana State beginning Aug. 31. Wyoming will then return home to host the UniWyo Invite beginning Sept. 7, when they will take on Arizona State, Binghamton and Murray State.