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Wyoming Volleyball in for tough weekend


Staff member
From the Laramie Boomerang:

Cowgirls face tough road test

By Richard Anderson
Assistant Sports Editor

It doesn’t get any easier for the Wyoming Cowgirls as they head back out on the road in Mountain West Conference volleyball action.

After playing the first month of the season on the road, the Cowgirls finally opened their home slate last weekend against perennial powers BYU and Utah. The Cowgirls had their chances but dropped both matches. Wyoming will now face a very good UNLV team tonight at 8 p.m. in Las Vegas before taking on a much-improved San Diego State team at 3 p.m. on Saturday in San Diego.

Wyoming head coach Pat Stangle said it is another tough weekend for his team (1-4 in league play and 6-7 overall), but that is the way the Mountain West Conference is shaping up this season.

“At any given time, one through eight can beat each other,” Stangle said. “We go out there knowing that we have been competitive in the past with both UNLV and San Diego State. But at the same time, they are both very good. UNLV beat both BYU and Utah at home, and San Diego State beat Utah and had BYU down 2-0 before BYU came back.”

The Rebels and Aztecs are both 2-2 in league play, with UNLV 11-3 overall and the Aztecs 10-5. The Rebels are led by Maria Aladjova, who is averaging 4.53 kills and 3.53 digs per game, followed by Lauren Miramontes at 4.06 kills and 1.04 blocks per game.

The Aztecs are led by Stephanie Darnall, who is averaging 3.38 kills and 2.88 digs per game, with Lindsey Mahan adding 2.67 kills and 1.34 blocks per game.

Even in their defeats this season, Stangle said the Cowgirls have been close and competitive. In practice this week, he said they talked about the good and the bad of being close.

“The bad is that you don’t want to be satisfied that you were competitive,” he said. “The good is that we are close, and we have to continue to fight. In a conference that is competitive like ours, all we can do is go out there and fight every game.”

For much of last weekend, that was the case. Against BYU, Wyoming lost a very close first game and had a 25-20 lead in the second game before losing. Against Utah, the Cowgirls won the first game, but lost two games by identical 32-30 scores.

“We’re doing things to be in those games, we’re just not doing things to finish,” Stangle said. “I think it comes down to a play or two in maintaining our composure. You practice the end of game situations and you talk about those things. You just hope to get better after putting yourself in those situations in practice.”

Junior setter Tasha Weishahn, who went into last weekend fourth in the league in assists, wasn’t expected to play last weekend with a sprained ankle suffered the previous weekend at TCU. She was cleared to play Friday morning and was able to play in both matches.

There were timing issues, however, for the Wyoming offense.

“We were playing extremely well prior to her getting hurt,” Stangle said. “It threw our timing off a little bit. She was better on Saturday than she was on Friday and she was better (Monday) in practice than she was on Saturday. It’s going to take getting back in our groove offensively. I think if we can do that this week, then we have a chance to go out and be competitive and maybe win one or two in a couple of tough environments.”

Senior outside hitter Rachel Smith leads the Cowgirls at 4.38 kills, which is fourth in the Mountain West, and 2.53 digs per game. She is followed closely by senior outside hitter Angie Hellbaum at 4.25 kills and 2.34 digs, while leading way with a .261 hitting percentage.

After this weekend, the Cowgirls return to action on Tuesday when they host Northern Colorado in a non-conference match at the UniWyo Sports Complex.

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