Women's volleyball NCAA regional finals 31

Brigham Young University libero Mary Lake (18) and setter Lyndie Haddock-Eppich (6) after the Cougars swept the University of Texas in an NCAA regional final match Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.

The BYU women’s volleyball team announced its 2019 schedule on Monday, including games against eight 2018 NCAA Tournament teams and three in-state opponents.

The Cougars will start the season hosting an invitational that will feature games against Boise State and Utah Valley on Aug. 30. BYU then will take on Marquette, which finished last year ranked 15th in the country and reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tourney, on Aug. 31.

The following weekend, BYU will host a three-day invitational from Sept. 5-7, welcoming Long Island, Sam Houston State and Weber State.

BYU’s first road trip of the year will take the Cougars to Wichita, Kansas, for three games. On Sept. 12, BYU will play host Wichita State after sweeping the Shockers in Provo last season.

The following day will feature a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight matchup as the Cougars take on Texas. The Longhorns finished ranked No. 5 in the country last season after ending their season at the hands of BYU. The Cougars will finish in Wichita with a match against VCU, the two-time defending Atlantic 10 champions.

On Sept. 19, BYU will head north to Salt Lake City to play at Utah. The Cougars swept the Utes twice last season, including in the second round of last year’s NCAA tourney.

Two days later, BYU returns a trip to play at defending national champion Stanford after the Cardinal came to Provo last season. The Cougars beat then-No. 1 ranked Stanford for the Cardinal’s only loss of the year last August before falling to the eventual champs in a rematch in the NCAA Final Four.

BYU will then begin West Coast Conference play on Sept. 26 at Gonzaga. The Cougars will again play each of their nine conference opponents home-and-away this year in the hopes of winning a sixth-consecutive conference title. The competition will be strong as LMU, Pepperdine, San Diego and Saint Mary’s are all coming off NCAA Tournament appearances a year ago, with all but Saint Mary’s winning at least one game in the postseason.

Following the Cougars’ final regular season game on Nov. 26 at home against Pepperdine, BYU will look to compete in the 2019 NCAA Tournament that begins Friday, Dec. 6. The Cougars have qualified for the postseason every year since 2012.

The Cougars return four All-Americans this fall from a team that went 31-2 and advanced to the NCAA Final Four last season. Heather Olmstead, the 2018 AVCA National Coach of the Year, and her staff are also bringing in eight newcomers who were collectively named the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation by PrepVolleyball.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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