Cowgirls rally past Utah State in season opener
LOGAN, Utah -- The Wyoming Cowgirl volleyball team opened its spring 2021 season in exciting fashion Friday night on the road at Utah State as the Cowgirls were able to rally from a two sets to one deficit to defeat the Aggies in five sets, 27-25, 20-25, 20-25, 25-15 and 15-10.
Wyoming (1-0, 1-0 MW) ended the decisive fifth set on a 9-2 run after falling behind, 8-6 early on. Jackie McBride helped provide the spark in the fifth as she recorded a trio of aces and also had a pair of kills during the run. The Cowgirls scored the final five points of the match.
McBride, who recorded a career-best five service aces in the win, was second on the team on the night with 11 kills while recording a match-high .455 hitting percentage. KC McMahon led the Cowgirls with 15 kills on the night while Faith Waitsman chipped in with nine kills and had a stellar night defensively at the net, notching a career-best 13 total blocks, the first double-digit block output of her career.
Naya Shimé and Hailey Zuroske each added six kills in the win, while Shimé, in her Cowgirl debut, also had nine blocking assists. Zuroske had nine digs on the night. Erika Jones led the back row with 15 digs against the Aggies (0-1) and Kaitlyn Gehler added 12. Kyra Slavik recorded her fourth career double-double in the victory as she led the way with 40 assists while also adding 10 digs.
For the match, Wyoming hit .170 while holding the Aggies to just a .120 clip. The Cowgirls also controlled the net defensively, out-blocking one of 2019’s top-blocking teams in the league, 17 to 10 on the night. The service game was fairly even as the Cowgirls had seven aces and 14 errors while USU recorded eight aces and had 13 serving errors.
Wyoming started off a little slow Friday, as Utah State jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in set one before the Cowgirls ripped off a 14-3 run and took a 15-7 lead and appeared to be well-within control of set one. However, USU would chip away at the lead methodically, eventually tying the set late and having set point at 24-23 before a Zuroske kill tied things back up at 24-24. After a kill by Slavik gave UW a 26-25 lead, Zuroske would end the set with her lone service ace of the night.
In set two, Utah State controlled much of the set, breaking an early tie at 4-4 to take control after a 5-0 run put the Aggies up 9-4. USU would not relinquish the lead the rest of the set and kept the Cowgirls at a distance much of the way, leading by as many as five points for much of the set.
The third brought more of a back-and-forth affair as the Cowgirls led 13-11, before Utah State would again go on a run, this time 9-4 and took a 20-17 lead. After back-to-back attack errors from the Aggies, the Cowgirls trailed by just one, 20-19, but couldn’t get over the hump as Utah State tallied its second consecutive 25-20 set win, and took the lead in the match 2-1.
Set four was all Cowgirls, as they broke an 11-11 tie and didn’t look back, going on a 7-0 run to take control of the set and shift the momentum of the match. Wyoming led by as many as 11 late in the set, 24-13 before eventually closing it out at 25-15.
The two teams will have a quick turnaround, as will be the case all season long, as game two of the series is set for 3 p.m., Saturday in Logan.
* University of Wyoming press release