Cowgirls open MWC play with win over UNLV
LARAMIE -- It was a thrilling conference-opening night for the Wyoming volleyball team as the Cowgirls rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat UNLV Thursday night in five sets, 22-25, 18-25, 25-18, 25-20 and 15-8.
After coming up short in the first two sets of the evening, the Cowgirls (6-6, 1-0 MW) all but controlled the final three sets of the victory. The Pokes didn’t trail for a single point in the 3rd-5th sets and was only tied once, at 1-1 to begin the fifth.
“I think we’ve got a competitive group and I think they changed after those first two sets,” said head coach Chad Callihan.
“We had a back-against-the-wall mentality and we started to get some block touches, our defense stepped it up, UNLV was just on fire those first two sets.”
Wyoming did step it up big time later in the match as the Cowgirls out-blocked the Rebels (4-8, 0-1 MW) 15-5 in the contest. The Pokes also ended up with one more dig (57-56) than UNLV. Although Wyoming ended with just one service ace and UNLV had six, the Rebels had 18 serving errors on the night while UW committed eight.
Both teams came out on fire offensively, both hitting above .400 in the opening set. In the second set, the Rebels out-hit the Cowgirls .406 to .182. However, the Pokes ratcheted up the pressure on both sides of the night, and ended up hitting .280 on the night while UNLV hit .224.
“I do think this team knew that they could come back,” said Callihan.
“That’s just a great win tonight because that’s a good team.”
KC McMahon led Wyoming and was just one off her career-high with 17 kills on the night. McMahon hit .361 in the contest and also had three block assists. Jackie McBride and Tara Traphagan each added 13 kills with McBride hitting .500 and racking up nine total blocks (two solo, seven assisted) in the match.
Mackenzie Coates also had a great all-around match as she recorded her third double-double of the season. Coates had 48 assists and 10 digs while also chipping in with five block assist and recording five kills on just six swings.
Defensively, Madi Fields led the way with a match-high 18 digs while Kiahlei Yaste added 11. Carlie Fiske ended the night with a pair of solo blocks and four blocking assists.
The win is Wyoming’s eighth straight regular season victory at the UniWyo. It also marks the fifth consecutive season that the Cowgirls have won their Mountain West opener, dating back to 2015.
Now, the Pokes shift their attention to their first road challenge in league play as they travel to face New Mexico Saturday in a 1 p.m., contest.