The Boise State volleyball team is on the road today for contests with Fresno State and UNLV this week. The Broncos earned a split of two emotional, action-packed matches with #20 Colorado State and Wyoming, teams that defeated the Broncos at home.
Crowds neared 1,000 for both matches in Bronco Gym, where fans got to see three of the nation's Top 50 college volleyball teams in action. Boise State lost a hard-fought match with the talented Rams, falling in the first two sets 25-20, 25-21 before the two teams delivered a classic third set in which CSU prevailed 33-31.
Assistant Bronco coach Candy Murphy said, "I think we competed hard. Colorado State is just a very tough team--they're very consistently good across the board, and so it's tough to challenge a team like that."
Down 12-4 in the opening set, the Rams showed why they are a Top 25 team, battling back to win the opening set. CSU stymied the Bronco attackers, either digging nearly every spike off the floor or forcing the Bronco hitters into errors with the position of their blocks.
"Colorado State forces your attackers to do just a little bit more with the ball, and I think our attackers were a little bit tight, trying to do too much," Murphy noted. "They just forced us into making some errors that have been pretty uncharacteristic for us." "I give them credit--their defense was very good and took us out of our game a little bit."
The shots that weren't falling for the Broncos on Thursday found their marks against Wyoming on Saturday, as the Broncos bounced back for a 25-19, 23-25, 27-25, 25-15 win over the Cowboys. That win was important in that not only it put Boise State in sole possession of second place, but it was important from an RPI standpoint. Similar to college basketball, the NCAA Volleyball Tournament selection committee looks at RPI numbers when choosing at-large teams for the postseason tournament.
"Rebounding and playing well against Wyoming on Saturday was great for us," Murphy said. The win improved Boise State to 7-3 in the Mountain West Conference and 15-7 overall.
Senior setter Sarah Baugh dished out 51 assists, and moved up to #2 in the nation in assists per set, just 4/100th's of an assist per set behind SMU's Avery Acker.
"I thought Sarah did a great job of setting the offense--it was much more balanced," Murphy said. "Great job from her standpoint of delivering the ball to all of our attackers. It was great to take second place by ourselves and to play much better volleyball."
After proving it can play with two of the best, Boise State will now face two gritty, talented teams looking to knock them off in Fresno State and UNLV. The Bulldogs battled Boise State to the wire earlier this month before the Broncos prevailed three sets to two. Murphy knows the team will get more of the same Thursday night.
"Fresno State, historically, it's always been a battle with them. They are a very competitive team--they fight really hard from the beginning of the match to the very end. That's something mentally we have to be really patient with them and stay consistent on our side of the net," she said. "The setter dump hurt us a little bit at our place and both of their setters are very active offensively."
Fresno State is 4-5 in the Mountain West and 12-11 overall. The Broncos will then face another tough contest at UNLV, the team that was picked along with Boise State to finish second in a preseason poll of the league's coaches.
Of UNLV (5-4 in conference and 12-9 overall), Murphy said, "I expect them to be really prepared for us to come to their home court. They're a physical team--they have a tremendous right side attack." "They don't make errors," Murphy continued, "so they force you to play a really clean game and to play a high percentage and good volleyball on your side of the court."
The Broncos and Bulldogs meet at 8 p.m. Mountain Time Thursday, while Boise State and UNLV get underway Saturday night at 6 Mountain Time.