The Boise State volleyball team evened its season record at 3-3 last weekend, thanks to two sweeps over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Northwestern.
The Broncos opened the Boise State Invitational last Thursday night with a 3-1 loss to Idaho State, which is not only is the favorite to capture the Big Sky Championship, but also ended up being the class of the tournament, winning all three matches.
(BroncoCountry video by Shelby Ransom)
Bronco head coach Shawn Garus gave the Bengals a lot of credit: "They were very aggressive, and to go on the road, at Boise State, in our environment, in front of the fans, and Idaho State to play like that and sustain it I thought was really impressive by them."
Sometimes losses can be great teaching tools, and Garus believes the team learned a lot from the match with Idaho State. The Bengals' aggressive style is something Garus wants to see in his team.
Garus has his team working hard on digs, blocks and serves to improve the Broncos' overall game. Just as Garus hopes Boise State will emulate ISU's aggressive play, he hopes his team sees what great serves did for Idaho State in their win: "They were able to put us on the defense constantly; they served so tough," he explained. "When they were making serves, we were out of system, and (they were) making our setter run all over the gym to try to get our hitters involved."
The Broncos swept Corpus Christi Friday night, thanks to a 33-18 advantage in attack percentage. "I think a lot of that had to do with our physical size," Garus said. "We had a huge advantage over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in that department." "I think their team is really good at doing what they do, Garus continued, "which is feisty defense, and they're an aggressive team, but we're just so much bigger physically at the net that we just created a lot of mismatches that were in our favor."
Boise State then swept a solid Northwestern team to conclude the tournament Saturday. Garus praised his team for their effort: "I felt like the match we played against Northwestern was the best we've played this year. We were the aggressor from start to finish. We really jumped on them early."
Garus noted the killer instinct the Lady Broncos displayed against the Wildcats, and looked for more of the same as the season progresses. Garus saw a trait that he said "I hope you see more of from a Boise State team--when we have someone down, we keep 'em down."
Garus wants to transform the on-court personna of his team to fit the aggressive style of play that he wants from them. "We have a group of players that are really good kids, and they have trouble being mean to their opponent, so I was really happy to see that they were able to be mean to Northwestern."
"I felt we got better each match at our home tournament--that was good to see," Garus said.
The Broncos travel for three matches at the North Texas Invitational in Denton, Texas this weekend against North Texas, Houston and Abilene Christian. The home team is coming off a big win on the road over Oklahoma, and Coach Garus knows that senior outside hitter Carnae Dillard will present a challenge: "She's a dynamic athlete--she looks like she could be an Olympic track athlete. She's fast, and she jumps super high, and she's the tough matchup for us," he said. Dillard has posted a double-double in five of the Mean Green's matches this season, and was named Conference USA Volleyball Player of the Week for her role in the win over Oklahoma.
Garus noted the difference in styles between North Texas and Houston that his team will have to adjust to. "North Texas has the 5'8" outside hitter that's really fast all over the gym. Houston has big kids--they set the ball up by the ceiling and just let the big kids go get it."
Boise State takes on North Texas Friday night at 6 p.m. Mountain Time, then meets Houston and Abilene Christian Saturday afternoon.