BOISE, Idaho--The Boise State volleyball team celebrated the graduation of three outstanding seniors, then disposed of Utah State in yet another three-set victory, 25-12, 25-22, 25-21, in Bronco Gym last night.
The record-breaking 2015 Bronco squad improved to 23-7 to finish the regular season with the second-best winning percentage in school history, topped only by the 1981 team (30-5) that competed in Division II. More impressively, coach Shawn Garus' team finished 15-3 in the tough Mountain West Conference.
Boise State has won nine in a row and 15 of their last 16, eye-popping numbers that the NCAA says they look for in selecting teams for the postseason tournament. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air at 7 p.m. Mountain Time on ESPNU this Sunday, with 32 at-large berths available. The Broncos have never played in the NCAA's.
Boise State's nine consecutive victories are the most since 10 in 1995, and the second-best streak for 16 games. The 1981 squad won 17 straight and 30-out-of-31. As of this writing, the Broncos are rated #45 in major college RPI, the highest ranking in school history.
“I just think we’re playing great right now. We have our whole roster available and everybody is healthy,” said Garus. “We’ve won 15 of our last 16 and we’re just looking for another opportunity to play a top team right now. We’re just so hungry. I think we’re deserving [of a bid to the NCAA Tournament], and I think we would represent Boise State and the NCAA really well if we do get a spot. We’ll certainly be looking at results this week and hoping it falls our way.”
Sophomore Sierra Nobley had a game-high 25 kills with deadly accuracy (52.4%) to extend her Boise State single-season kills record to 522, just two shy of the Mountain West record. Nobley also broke Alisha Young's 2010 school standard of 524.5 points. Boise State hit 33.3% as a team, with senior setter Sarah Baugh dishing out 42 assists and landing six kills of her own.
Baugh, Aly Duffin and Katelyn Kinghorn were honored prior to the match in a ceremony with members of their families.
The Broncos went on an 8-0 run to lead early 11-3. Utah State never got closer than seven in the first set. With the score 15-8, Boise State went on another 8-1 run, and Nobley finished off the set with a kill.
Boise State was the aggressor in the second set as well, grabbing a 7-3 lead, as Kinghorn registered three kills in the streak. A Tasia Taylor ace closed the margin to 7-6, but Utah State was never able to grab the lead. Nobley again ended the set with a kill for a 25-22 Bronco win.
Nobley helped the Broncos to a 4-1 lead in the third set, but the Aggies battled back and were able to tie at 17-17. Freshman Sabryn Roberts stepped up for the first of two-straight blocks, combing first with Duffin and then with Kaitlyn Oliver, and the Broncos were never headed after that.
Boise State's 15 wins in the Mountain West Conference tied another school record for the most conference wins in school history, joining the 1988 team that compiled a 15-1 mark when the Broncos won the regular season of the Big Sky. That 1988 team, however, lost the Big Sky Tournament and did not participate in the NCAA Tournament.