Coaches try to learn something about their team in every game or match, but some results are more telling than others.
Friday is an opportunity for the 10th-ranked BYU women’s volleyball team to show Shawn Olmstead just where the 2014 season might be headed. The Cougars host No. 5 Washington in the marque match of the BYU Invitational at the Smith Fieldhouse.
Both teams are undefeated after the first weekend. BYU (3-0) swept all three matches at the Blue and Gold Player’s Challenge at West Virginia. Senior opposite Jennifer Hamson was named the most valuable player after averaging 3.78 kills per set and hitting .397. Middle blocker Amy Boswell (2.22 blocks per set) and setter Camry Godfrey-Willardson (12.11 assists per set) also made the all-tournament team.
“It was the first week and we had a couple of more errors than I would have liked,” Olmstead said. “We were figuring some things out and it was important for the girls to get a comfort level playing with Jen. It was her first match with us in a year. We had to find that identity again.”
The Huskies (3-0) dominated two of the three matches they played at the Northwest Challenge in Boise, Idaho, going five sets with West Coast Conference opponent Gonzaga before prevailing. Washington swept Boise 3-0 to win the event. Senior outside hitter Krista Vansant averaged 3.82 kills per set and hit .434 to earn MVP honors while outside hitters Kaleigh and Tia Scambray were named all-tournament.
“We just became more aggressive as the weekend went,” Huskies coach Jim McLaughlin said. “That’s the UW way. There are some expectations that they welcome and they can’t be afraid of. If you’re aggressive you are going to make some errors but that’s how you grow as a player.”
Washington was an NCAA semifinalist last season and won a national championship in 2005.
“They’re going to be pretty good with ball control and they’ll be a good serving team,” Olmstead said. “Some people get sick of hearing the game is all about serving and passing, but it really is. They will try to limit their errors and pass at a really high level. They’ll be pretty powerful across the board. They run and offense with two setters and three attackers all the time.”
Olmstead feels his experienced squad should be able to handle the spotlight against such a quality opponent.
“This is the first official sporting event on campus with school in session, so hopefully we get a good crowd and get the place filled,” Olmstead said. “We want to go in, compete and win. We’re really excited about the opportunity. We’ll get a lot of good information for us as we go throughout the season.”