BYU wvb Mary Lake dig vs. Marquette

BYU senior libero Mary Lake digs a ball in a match against Marquette in the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2019.

BYU women’s volleyball coach Heather Olmstead and her staff will learn a lot about the Cougars this week.

Last Saturday, Marquette came into the Smith Fieldhouse and did what few teams have been able to do: Dominate BYU on their home court. The Eagles beat BYU 3-1, including a 25-16 win in Set 2 and a 25-13 victory in Set 4. The loss in the Nike Invitational ended the Cougars 26-match home win streak and showed that this young team has a lot of work to do.

Responding after a loss is about mental toughness.

BYU hosts the doTerra Classic in the Fieldhouse beginning on Thursday against LIU-Brooklyn. The Cougars plays Sam Houston State on Friday and Weber State on Saturday.

Comparisons to last year’s Final Four team are inevitable, but the focus is always on getting better every day.

“Every year we do awesome things,” BYU senior libero Mary Lake said. “I don’t think anyone on this team dwelling on it (last year), because it’s a whole new team this year. We’re supposed to do something different. Whatever it is, we’re excited to see how good the team can be. When you take it practice by practice and focus on getting better, that takes care of itself.”

BYU’s main struggles against Marquette were defensively, allowing the Eagles to hit .354. On the offensive side, the Cougars hit just .202 against Marquette. Last year’s BYU squad was one of the top offensive teams in the country, hitting better than .300 and holding opponents to .143. More consistent hitting from the Cougars experienced middles would help as well. Against Marquette, returning starters Kennedy Eschenberg and Heather Gneiting combined for just nine kills and had nine errors on 29 swings.

BYU is perfect 66-0 against its doTerra Classic opponents, including 62-0 against Weber State. One of the Wildcats’ top players is Megan Gneiting, sister of BYU’s Heather Gneiting. Weber State is coached by former BYU men’s volleyball player Jeremiah Larsen.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

Darnell Dickson, who has been covering sports in Utah since 1989 (with a detour to Nebraska for three years somewhere in there), is currently the BYU football columnist and BYU men’s basketball beat writer.

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