BOISE, Idaho--The Boise State volleyball team faces its fourth match in eight days when the Broncos host San Jose State tonight in Bronco Gym.
Boise State advanced their season mark to 11-6 when they shut down Utah State on the road in three sets on Tuesday. Coach Shawn Garus' team preceded that with victories at home last Thursday and Saturday in front of packed houses against UNLV and Fresno State, respectively.
The Lady Broncos are trying to hit the 20-win plateau for the 10th time in school history. Garus turned heads in 2010 when he turned a team that was 8-22 the previous season into a 21-12 squad in 2011, his second year at the helm. The last time Boise State put up win totals of 20 or more in consecutive seasons was when the Broncos were in the Big Sky Conference. Coach Darlene Bailey regularly led her team to near the top of the conference, and her Broncos registered 20 or more wins from 1986-1990. Bailey guided the Broncos to the all-time top season, 28-5 in 1981.
Last year, Garus led Boise State to an 18-win season, and this year began with high expectations. The Lady Broncos finished in a tie for second with UNLV in a preseason poll of Mountain West Conference coaches. But after a season-opening pair of road losses at #21 Colorado State and Wyoming, Boise State has had to claw their way back in the conference standings, and currently sit in fifth place, just where they finished last year.
So for the Boise State team to advance, they'll need to win their matches at home, and they'll need to beat teams they are favored to beat. San Jose State was picked to finish 11th in the league, but sport a 10-7 overall mark entering tonight's match.
San Jose State is a team that not only ranks fourth in the conference in kills (12.57 per set); they like to force opponents into errors, going up high at the net and reducing looks for opposing hitters. The Spartans have held their opposition to just 15.5% hitting, second in the Mountain West.
Boise State sophomore Sierra Nobley continues to hold a wide lead in the Mountain West in kills per set (winning shots) with 4.72. Senior setter Sarah Baugh is the runaway assist leader with 12.18 per set. Sophomore libero Maddi Osburn is second in the conference in digs with 4.68 a set.
(BroncoCountry video by Shelby Ransom)
So the Broncos are doing a lot of things right. To get to where they want to be, they'll need to display tenacious defense and get blocks at the net, as Maddy O'Donnell said earlier this season.
The match gets underway tonight at 7 in Bronco Gym.