Cowgirls move to 4-0 after sweep of New Mexico
LARAMIE -- Saturday morning saw the Wyoming Cowgirl Volleyball team improve its overall and Mountain West record to 4-0 with a three-set sweep of the New Mexico Lobos by scores of 25-14, 25-18 and 26-24.
Wyoming’s attack was led by senior Jackie McBride with eight kills and five blocks.
Junior KC McMahon had a team high nine kills and added two blocks, and senior Faith Waitsman recorded eight kills and two blocks. New Mexico’s record fell to 2-2 overall and in the Mountain West this season.
The Cowgirls three-set sweep on Saturday followed a three-set sweep of New Mexico on Friday night and a three-set sweep at Utah State last Saturday to mark UW’s third consecutive match sweep of an opponent.
Wyoming’s 4-0 start in Mountain West Conference play is the best conference start in the eight seasons that Chad Callihan has served as Wyoming head coach.
Callihan’s Cowgirl squads’ other top starts in conference play were 3-1 records to begin MW play in 2019, 2016 and 2015. The last time a Cowgirl Volleyball team began conference play 4-0 was back in 1998 as a member of the Western Athletic Conference Mountain Division.
McBride entered this weekend’s matches versus New Mexico with 417 career blocks. She added five blocks on Saturday to go with five on Friday night against the Lobos to improve her career total to 427 and move into the No. 7 spot in UW history, passing Katie Donahue, who had 419 career blocks from 1984-88.
As a team, the Cowgirls had a much more effective offensive attack that UNM on Saturday, recording a .215 hitting percentage with 37 kills and only 14 attack errors. New Mexico could manage a hitting percentage of only 0.62, with 31 kills and 24 errors.
UW also held the advantage in blocks, with a total of 11 blocks to New Mexico’s seven.
Wyoming began the match strong with a dominant 25-14 win in Game 1. In that game, the Cowgirls had 11 kills on 27 attacks for a .407 hitting percentage and committed no attack errors. Game 2 saw Wyoming record 13 kills and only four errors in 34 attempts for a .265 percentage. Game 3 was the closest game of the match.
UW recorded 13 kills on 46 attempts in Game 3, but had 10 errors, while New Mexico had 12 kills in the third game on 47 attempts with nine errors.
UW’s defense held the Lobos to less than a .100 hitting percentage in all three games, limiting New Mexico to a .056 percentage in Game 1, a .069 percentage in Game 2 and a 0.64 hitting percentage in Game 3.
After the match, Callihan commented on his team’s play on Saturday and its strong start to the 2021 spring season.
In response to being asked how pleased he was to record two three-game sweeps in this weekend’s matches, Callihan said, “I think with the nature of us playing the back-to-back matches and not getting a lot of rest in between it helps to get out of the gym quickly and save some wear and tear on our bodies. I think that will also help us as the season progresses.”
Saturday’s match saw the Cowgirl coaching staff be able to play a number of different players for extended periods of time, which Callihan admitted wasn’t necessarily the plan going into the match.
“It is nice for everyone to carve out a role for themselves and it is nice to spell some kids,” said Callihan. “Injuries forced us to play a few kids that we hadn’t necessarily planned to play as much. All of a sudden there were a lot of moving pieces for awhile, and I don’t think we were quite as crisp because of that. But it was nice to see those kids get some time and see some of them play pretty well. It gives us something to build on as we move forward.”
In regard to starting the season 4-0 in Mountain West play, Callihan said, “I think I get a little hung up on how we play rather than what the result is -- like most coaches. But at the end of the day, this is where you want to be (4-0). The kids are working hard and its nice to see them get some results that we can feel pretty good about over the weekend.”
The eighth-year head coach of the Cowgirls also commented on what it is like for his team to be back playing their first home matches after the 2020 fall season was postponed due to the coronavirus.
“It’s been over a calendar year since we’ve had a match here at home,” said Callihan. “Even though we’re in a situation with reduced fan capacity, it’s still nice to see our team get out here and compete.
“We were talking last night that it’s a crappy time, and we all are not getting to do a lot of the things that we normally would. But for us to be able to step on the court and do something that we love and enjoy is a gift that a lot of people aren’t getting right now in their own lives. Rather than get stressed let’s enjoy these opportunities and appreciate the fact that we’re able to do this.”
Wyoming will return to the court next weekend when they will travel to Boise State to play the Broncos on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20. The next home matches for the Cowgirls will be on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 and 27 in the Border War versus Colorado State.
Both Wyoming-CSU matches are scheduled to start at 6 p.m., Mountain Time.
* University of Wyoming press release