The BYU women’s volleyball Blue and White Match turned out about the way you’d expect.
When the teams were split up evenly, the match was, well, even. When BYU coach Shawn Olmstead went with most of his starters on one side, that team won.
For the record, the White team won three of the four sets on Saturday. The Blue and White split the first two sets. In the final two sets the White team, consisting of projected starters, won 25-16, 25-20.
Olmstead has been looking at this team in practice for two weeks, so he pretty much knew what he’d see. But in a different setting – the Smith Fieldhouse, simulating game conditions – he was impressed with how his freshmen played and how others stepped up to play well when given the opportunity.
Fans and Olmstead got good looks at talented freshmen Danelle Parady (16 kills) and Cosy Burnett (10 kills), as well as setter Malery Wahlin (42 assists).
“I thought our freshmen did a nice job on the outside,” Olmstead said. “They took a lot of swings against a really big block, and I was pleased with that. It was exciting.”
Senior Tambre (Haddock) Nobles was resting due to a sore back – actually, she ended up with line judge duty – but Olmstead said she should be ready to go the start of the season next week. With Nobles out, Hannah Robison made the most of her chances at outside hitter. The senior from Orem led all players with 18 kills and hit a robust .326.
“We’ve all been working really hard and the coaches have been implementing things that have been paying off for everybody,” Robison said. “It’s good to see those things work in match mode, too. The idea of trying to make this like a match is what we needed. We’re so pumped. We’re just going to keep working this week and we’re excited to have a chance to play some other people.”
Olmstead noticed Robison’s work.
“Some of our kids that have been role players the past few years are playing a bigger role,” Olmstead said. “Hannah did a great job on the outside. I’m pretty pleased with what I’m seeing right now from the team.”
Veterans Alexa Gray (17 kills), Jennifer Hamson (16 kills), Camry (Godfrey) Willardson (39 assists) and Ciara Parker (23 digs) will all play a big part for the Cougars, which earned a No. 9 ranking in the first AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) poll of the season.
Now, efforts turn toward game prep. BYU travels to the Gold and Blue Players Challenge in West Virginia next week to open the 2014 season. The Cougars play the host school as well as IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis) and Toledo.
“West Virginia did a nice job in the Big 12 last year,” Olmstead said. “We expect them to be big, physical kids. We hope we can beat them with our ball control, but I think we can match their physicality with this group. I’m excited to see where we are.”