Cowgirl Volleyball Earns First Win of the Year

photo courtesy of Ted C. Brummond/UW Photo Service

by staff–3 Sep ’19

The Wyoming volleyball team dropped Long Island in three sets on Monday night for their first win of the season. Wyoming improved to 1-2 on the year, playing at home for the first time this year, in front of 1,127 fans in the UniWyo Sports Complex.

“I, personally, was a little nervous coming into this one,” said head volleyball coach Chad Callihan. “I know what a good group we have, and I think this team has a lot of potential, but we had a bit of a rocky weekend. We were still a little unsure about how we were going to come out and what type of confidence we were going to have.”

Sophomore outside hitter KC McMahon led the offense with a game-high 14 kills on a .385 hitting percentage (14-4-26). Junior middle blocker Jackie McBride had nine kills on a very efficient .615 hitting percentage (9-1-13) and added a block at the net.

“Coming off the weekend, we were struggling to create offensive production, and things really opened up this evening,” Callihan said. “We kind of made a few lineup changes, and it looked like things were a little simpler on the floor, and it started to click. We passed really well, which allowed us to get our offense going.”

Freshman outside hitter Hailey Zuroske had a solid match for UW, registering a career-high eight kills, five digs, the first three aces of her career and a pair of blocks. Senior outside hitter Tara Traphagan was yet another Cowgirl to hit efficiently at the net, posting six kills on a .333 hitting percentage (6-1-15).

Defensively, senior libero Madi Fields racked up 13 digs on the night, while Traphagan had six and senior defensive specialist Kiahlei Yaste registered five. Junior setter Mackenzie Coates directed the offense with a match- and career-high 33 assists, and added a pair of kills for good measure.

As a team, the Cowgirls hit .371 on the night (42-9-89), while totaling 36 digs and four total blocks. The Sharks hit .124 over the three sets (32-20-97), with 35 digs and four total blocks.

The Cowgirls started the match strong, jumping out to a 10-4 lead early, behind a pair of kills from Zuroske. After the Cowgirls stretched the lead to 14-8, LIU called timeout, but the Sharks were forced to stop play shortly after, as the lead grew to 18-11. A ball-handling error by the Sharks handed Wyoming the first set, 25-16. Traphagan and McMahon each had four kills in the set, while Fields piled up seven digs.

The second set started out much closer, as the Cowgirls had just a one-point lead at 7-6. However, Yaste served strong and the Cowgirls went on a 5-0 run to force an LIU timeout at 12-6. The lead ballooned to 17-7 thanks in part to a pair of blocks by Zuroske and McBride back-to-back.

The Sharks trailed by 10 at 20-1, but used a 5-0 run to force a UW timeout. Out of the break, the Cowgirls took five of the next eight points, and won the set 25-18, capped by a Zuroske kill from Coates. McMahon was dominant in set two, scoring six kills to only one error. Coates had 12 assists in the set, while junior middle blocker Faith Waitsman had a pair of block assists.

The third set saw the teams trade points until a 7-7 tie. After that, the Cowgirls used a 10-2 run to pull away. Zuroske had three kills during the extended Cowgirl run. Wyoming pushed the lead out to 21-12, and the Sharks called timeout after an attacking error. Wyoming cruised the rest of the way, and a ball-handling error gave Wyoming the set, 25-14, and the match, 3-0.

The Cowgirls are back in action this weekend, when they host the UniWyo Invite on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 6 and 7. Wyoming will welcome Buffalo, Charleston and Northern Colorado to 7,220 feet for the three-day tournament.