LARAMIE – After suffering a tough loss Tuesday against Colorado State, the University of Wyoming women’s volleyball team bounced back Saturday afternoon.
The Cowgirls defense stood out as they swept the Air Force Academy, 25-12, 25-13, 25-19, for their fifth consecutive home win.
“Having a couple of extra days in between matches really helped,” UW coach Chad Callihan said. “We came back and took Wednesday off which was good for the team and also gave us two days to prep (for Air Force).”
UW (15-8, 10-2 Mountain West) began the match in dominating fashion. They took a quick lead and never allowed Air Force to come close to getting back in the set, going on a 7-point run midway through.
The Cowgirls’ defense was a force throughout the match, and especially in the opening set as the Falcons hit at a minus .086 mark in the first set.
The second set resembled the first when the Cowgirls, again, jumped out to an early lead and Air Force’s offense was stuck trying to figure out how to score on Wyoming’s sound defense.
“We talked about some shot tendencies and it took us a couple of points, but we figured it out,” Callihan said. “The pins were doing a nice job of lining up and the middles were doing a nice job of closing.”
UW hit at a .385 clip in the second set and scored on 12 kills, while only committing two errors. Tara Traphagan led the Cowgirls with three kills in the second set.
The final set of the match was back and forth, and the Falcons found some momentum to go up 16-12 at one point.
The Cowgirls rallied and scored the final seven points of the match and seven points in the third set came by way of blocks.
“Carlie (Fikse) got the start (Saturday) and she had a real impact at the net,” Callihan said. “I thought our service pressure set up a lot of those blocks, too, and that was nice to see, especially against what is typically a pretty good passing team.”
Fikse led the Cowgirls with eight total blocks, including three solo. Wyoming had 25 blocks as a team compared to Air Force’s six.
After having 13 kills in Tuesday’s match against league-leading CSU, freshman Emerson Cyza paced the Cowgirls with nine kills Saturday and is becoming a big contributor as the season winds down.
“I think I’m doing a really good job of forgetting about my mistakes,” Cyza said. “I’ve been able to shake (my mistakes) off and go up and attack the next play.”
Air Force (8-16, 5-7) had 29 total attack errors to UW’s 11, which was the biggest difference in the match and is credited to the Cowgirls’ defense and ability to deny the Falcons’ attacks.
Wyoming hit at a .247 rate for the match while the Falcons hit at a .009 mark.
Libero Madi Fields had 13 digs for the Cowgirls and teammate Jackie McBride hit at a .636 clip to pace all players.
Setter Mackenzie Coates had 30 assists for UW.
The Cowgirls will continue conference play when they head out west to take on San Diego State on Thursday, followed by another road match against Fresno State on Saturday.