Boise State Opens Season at Northwest Challenge in Spokane
Aug. 26, 2015

Photo: Maddy O'Donnell is one of four Broncos returning who earned postseason Mountain West honors in 2014.

Eighth Annual Northwest Challenge
August 28-29 at Spokane, Wash. 
Gonzaga University | Martin Centre

MATCH 1: Vs. Portland State 

MATCH 2: Vs. No. 10 Washington 

MATCH #3: at Gonzaga 


  • Boise State (0-0) opens the 2015 campaign this Friday at the eighth annual Northwest Challenge in Spokane, Wash., against Portland State (0-0) at 7 p.m. (Mountain) in the Martin Centre on the Gonzaga University campus. 
  • The Broncos will play three matches this weekend at the Northwest Challenge inclduing two on Saturday when the will face 10th-ranked (AVCA) Washington (0-0) at 1 p.m., followed by host Gonzaga (0-0) at 7 p.m.


  • The eighth annual Northwest Challenge is a round robin tournament which features the same four teams annually in Boise State (Mountain West Conference), Gonzaga (West Coast Conference), Portland State (Big Sky Conference) and Washington (Pacific-12 Conference).
  • The four schools take turns hosting the tournament on a four-year rotation. Boise State hosted the competition in 2014. 
  • Last year the Broncos went 1-2 with its lone victory coming over Portland State 3-1. Washington won the championship going undefeated. 
  • Boise State is 8-13 all-time in the Northwest Challenge: 4-3 vs. Gonzaga, 4-3 vs. Portland State and 0-7 vs. Washington.


  • Record: Boise State is 17-19 in season openers since the 1979 campaign.
  • Current Streak: The Broncos are looking to snap a seven-match losing streak in openers.
  • Last Victory: Boise State’s last victory in a season opener came at home in 2007 when the Broncos defeated UT San Antonio in straight sets during the Bronco Invitational.
  • Broncos are looking for first season opening win under head coach Shawn Garus (0-6).
  • At Home: 9-5 all-time when opening at home.
  • On Road: 8-14 all-time when opening on the road.

Portland State (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky)

  • The Vikings have been a power within the Big Sky Conference since joining the league in 1996. 
  • Portland State has won four Big Sky titles since 2007.
  • Last year was a down season for Portland State as the Vikings finished 9-20 overall and 7-9 in league play, placing 6th.
  • The BSC coaches selected the Vikings, who return two starters to place sixth out of 12 teams in this year’s league race. 
  • Portland State leads the all-time series with the Broncos by a 17-5 margin. However, the Broncos are 4-3 against the Vikings in Northwest Challenge play. 

Washington (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

  • The Huskies enter the match ranked 10th nationally in the AVCA Preseason Poll.
  • Washington went 31-3 overall, 18-2 in league and advanced to the NCAA round of 16 last year.
  • They return 12 letterwinners and seven starters from last year’s squad, including Pac-12 Preseason honorees Cassie Strickland (libero) and Lianna Sybeldon (middle blocker).
  • The Pac-12 head coaches picked the Huskies to place third in the season’s conference race.
  • Washington leads the all-time series 11-5, including 7-0 against the Broncos in the Northwest Challenge.
  • The Huskies are in their first season under head coach Keegan Cook, a former UW assistant.

Gonzaga (0-0, 0-0 WCC)

  • Last year the Bulldogs went 17-12 overall and 8-10 in WCC play to place 6th.
  • Gonzaga was projected to place fourth out of 10 schools in 2015 by the WCC coaches.
  • They return 12 letterwinners and all seven starters from last season, including Savannah Blinn (outside hitter) a 2015 Preseason All-WCC honoree.
  • Boise State leads the all-time series with Gonzaga by a 18-10 count and is 4-3 against the Bulldogs in Northwest Challenge matches. 
  • The Broncos saw the Bulldogs snap Boise State’s four-match win streak versus Gonzaga last year in Boise by a 3-1 score.

Head Coach: Shawn Garus

  • Garus currently sits at 209-212 overall in his 14 year career as a collegiate head coach.
  • Garus is currently 94-92 at Boise State entering his seventh season.

2015 Preseason All-Mountain West

  • Sierra Nobley (Sophomore, Outside Hitter) was one of seven student-athletes named by the league coaches to the 2015 MW Preseason All-Conference Team.

2015 Mountain West Preseason Poll

  • Boise State was picked by the league’s 11 head coaches to tie UNLV for second-place in 2015.
  • Second-place is the highest preseason ranking for the Broncos dating back to the 1998 Big West Conference preseason poll, which is oldest poll found in our records.

Oliver Named to USAVB Collegiate National Team Program

  • Boise State redshirt-sophomore Kaitlyn Oliver was named to the USA Volleyball Collegiate National Team program this past spring.
  • Oliver was one of 36 collegiate players who participated in the week-long training program in New Orleans June 21-29, 2015. 
  • This program is considered a tryout for the USA National Team.
  • Oliver is the first Bronco ever selected for the USA Volleyball Collegiate National Team program.

Oliver and O’Donnell Named MW All-Stars

  • Kaitlyn Oliver and Maddy O’Donnell were both selected for the MW All-Star Team that participated in the European Global Challenge at Pula, Croatia, July 7-18, 2015.

Postseason Honors

  • Four Broncos racked in five MW postseason honors last year three All-MW, Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year ... all four are back in 2015 ... one earned AVCA Honorable Mention All-Region honors.
  • As a junior Sarah Baugh (S) was All-MW.
  • Maddy O’Donnell (MB), a sophomore in 2014, was All-MW.
  • Sierra Nobley (OH) was All-MW and MW Freshman of the Year ... She was also AVCA Honorable Mention All-Region.
  • Kaitlyn Oliver was MW Newcomer of the Year as a redshirt-freshman. 

Starting Lineup

Letterwinners and Redshirts

  • The Broncos return nine of 12 letterwinners from 2014, plus one redshirt.
  • In addition to the starters, Boise State has Katelyn Kinghorn (Sr., OH), Laney Hayes (R-So., MB), Jaymee-Lee Bulda (So., S).
  • Aly Duffin (R-Sr., MB) also returns after redshirting in 2014. 

Statistically Speaking

  • The Broncos return 75.5 percent (1,148) of its kills, 95.5 percent (1,354) of the assists, 80.1 percent (1,148) of the digs, 61.2 percent (145) of blocks and 76.5 percent 1,449.5) of the points from 2014.

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