Volleyball Hits the Road for Four Matches

What's Happening This Week In Bronco Volleyball
Week two has the Boise State University volleyball team (2-1) on the road for four matches beginning with a Wednesday night encounter at Eastern Washington University (1-2) in Cheney. The Broncos will then continue their 14-match road swing to open the season at the Northwest Challenge in Spokane, Wash., this Friday and Saturday. Boise State will open the tournament against the host school Gonzaga University (3-1) at 7 p.m. (Mountain) on Friday, then follow that with two contests Saturday versus Portland State University (3-1) at 11 a.m. and No. 7 University of Washington (3-0) at 5 p.m.

A Quick Look at Boise State

Last Week for the Broncos
Boise State opened the season last weekend at the Crystal Inn Thunderbird Invitational hosted by Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah.  The Broncos went 2-1 at the tournament where they opened with a hard fought 3-2 loss to the University of the Pacific, then followed that with two victories over Southern Utah (3-0) and Drake University (3-2).

Seniors Breann Nesselhuf and Amanda Remy were named to the all-tournament team. Nesselhuf, a senior setter, recorded 15 points, nine kills (.100), 135 assists, 35 digs and 10 blocks during the three match weekend. Meanwhile, Remy, a senior libero, led the Bronco defense accumulating four points, eight assists, four service aces, and a team-high 77 digs.

What's Back in 2011
The Blue and Orange returns five starters and nine letterwinners from last year's 21-12 squad that went 8-8 in the WAC to place fourth. Boise State returns All-WAC Second Team honoree Breann Nesselhuf, currently a senior setter, from last season. Joining that core group are two 2010 redshirts and five newcomers (one junior transfer and four freshmen). Overall, the Broncos have a good mix of experience and youth with four seniors, four juniors, two sophomores, two redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen on the 2011 squad.

Broncos to Watch Entering 2011 Campaign 

  • Breann Nesselhuf, senior setter: Boise State returns All-WAC honoree Breann Nesselhuf for the 2011 campaign. The senior setter ranks sixth in career assists with 2,275, placing her fourth in career average at 9.74. She is also ranked second for season assists with 1,331 and seventh in season average at 10.82 in 2010.

  • Elizabeth Griffin, senior outside hitter:  Griffin enters her senior campaign ranked 10th for career points with 529.

  • Amanda Remy, senior libero: Remy recorded 434 digs as a junior in 2010 to rank  third for digs in a season, she ranks ninth in dig season average at 3.47.

  • Fiona Jones  and Liz Harden, junior outside hitters:  Jones and Harden are the top two scorers returning for the Broncos this year.  Jones recorded 331 points to rank third last year, while Harden was fourth with 278.

The Man in Charge 
Shawn Garus, Head Coach: Garus is in his third season in charge of the Broncos where he has gone 31-35 overall, including a 2-1 mark in 2011. After a 8-22 mark during his first season, Garus guided his team to an outstanding turnaround in 2010 with a 21-12 record. The 21 victories last year was the most for Boise State since 1990 when the team went 23-12. To date, Shawn's career record is 146-155 in his 11th season.

New Home in 2011
Boise State is entering its first season in the Mountain West (MW) after spending the last 10 in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The Broncos were picked by the league's coaches to place sixth out of eight teams during its inaugural season in the conference.

Match 4: Eastern Washington

Scouting The EWU Eagles 
The Series: Eastern Washington has won five-straight over Boise State even though the Broncos hold the advantage in the all-time series by a 28-24 margin. These two programs were once conference rivals dating back to the old Mountain West Athletic Conference (1982-1987) followed by the Big Sky Conference (1988-1995). However, they have not met since Nov. 8, 2007 when the Eagles won 3-0 in Cheney.  

The Eagles Recently: Eastern Washington enters the week at 1-2 overall after competing in the Seattle University Fall Volley last weekend where they dropped a pair of 3-0 decisions to Seattle U. and Santa Clara University. Their lone win to date was a 3-2 victory over Washington State University  sandwiched in between the two losses. Cora Kellerman, a junior outside hitter, leads EWU with 34 kills (.208), 31 digs and five blocks on the year, followed by senior middle blocker Chenoa Rossi-Childress with 25 kills (.333) and 19 blocks.

Looking at EWU:  Eastern Washington is currently a member of the Big Sky where they were picked to place sixth out of nine teams in this year's league race by the conference's coaches. The Eagles return five starters and nine letterwinners from last season's 8-19 campaign when they went 7-9 in league play to place sixth. EWU is coached by Miles Kidd (45-43) who is in his fourth season with the Eagles. 

Matches 5-7: The Northwest Challenge

Boise State will drive over to Spokane, Wash., following Wednesday's encounter at Eastern Washington in Cheney, about 18 miles. The Broncos will then spend the weekend competing in the Northwest Challenge which annually features Boise State (2-1), Gonzaga (3-1), Portland State (3-1) and No. 8 (AVCA) Washington (3-0), the teams rotate as host. The 2011 edition is being hosted by Gonzaga at the Martin Centre and is a round-robin format with each team playing the other three participants during the course of the tournament. 

The Broncos open their schedule against the host Gonzaga Bulldogs at 7 p.m. (Mountain) Friday night. They will continue the weekend's action with a pair of contests on Saturday beginning with the Portland State Vikings (3-1) at 11 a.m., followed by the No. 8 ranked Washington Huskies at 5 p.m. Note, both Washington and Portland State went to the NCAA Tournament in 2010, the Huskies made the Elite Eight. 

Scouting The Gonzaga Match 
The Series: The Broncos and Bulldogs have met 25 times previously with Boise State holding a 15-10 lead in the series. Last year, Boise State won 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-19) at the Northwest Challenge which was held in Boise.

The Bulldogs Recently:  Gonzaga enters the week at 3-1 overall after participating in the UniWyo Wyoming Invite last weekend in Laramie. Gonzaga opened the year with a 3-1 victory over the University of South Dakota followed by a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Mountain West member and tournament host the University of Wyoming. The Zags then responded with two wins on Saturday, Aug. 27, defeating DePaul University 3-0 and Oregon State University 3-2. Senior Laura Day led the Bulldogs with 38 kills (.083), five service aces, 32 digs and three blocks, followed by Kylie Edinger, a junior middle blocker, with 34 kills (.134) and team-high nine blocks.

Looking at Gonzaga:   The Bulldogs were picked to place ninth out of nine teams in this year's West Coast Conference race by the league's coaches. The Bulldogs return three starters and seven letterwinners from last season's 4-27 campaign when they went 1-13 in league play to place eighth. They are coached by Dave Gantt (GU 17-46) who is in his third season at Gonzaga. 

Scouting The Portland State Match  
The Series:
 Boise State and Portland State have met 18 times previously with the Vikings holding a sizeable lead in the series by a 15-3 margin. Last year, Boise State won 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13) at the Northwest Challenge hosted by Boise State. 
The Vikings Recently:  Portland State went 3-1 last week at the El Paso Sports Commission Volleyball Invitational in El Paso, Texas. The Vikings defeated Nicholls State University 3-0, lost to host UTEP 1-3, then defeated UT-Arlington and Southern University by identical 3-0 scores.  Junior outside hitter Megan Ellis led PSU last week with 55.5 points on 53 kills (.284), and four blocks, followed by Aubrey Mitchell with 32.5 points on 26 kills (.352), two service aces and nine blocks.

Looking at Portland State:   The Vikings have won three of the last four Big Sky Conference regular-season titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2008 and 2010.  They were picked to place second out of nine teams in this year's conference race by the league's coaches. Portland State returns four starters and seven letterwinners from last season's 21-9 team that went 14-2 in league play to place first. PSU is coached by Michael Seemann (PSU 86-35) who is in his fifth season with the Vikings.

Scouting The Washington Match
The Series:  The Huskies and Broncos have met 12 times with Washington holding a 7-5 advantage in the series, including an active seven-match win streak. Last year, then No. 9 ranked Washington defeated Boise State 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-12) at the Northwest Challenge in Boise. 

The Huskies Recently:  Washington opened the season ranked No. 7 in the AVCA poll but slipped to No. 8 this week. The Huskies went 3-0 last weekend at the Long Beach State Mizuno Invitational in California. They opened with an easy 3-0 victory over Prairie View A&M followed by a 3-0 victory over UMBC (University of Maryland-Baltimore County) and a 3-1 win over host No. 22 Long Beach State. Kylin Munoz led Washington with 38.5 points on 30 kills (.244), five service aces and seven blocks, followed by Krista Vansant with 37 points on 30 kills (.333), two service aces and nine blocks.

Looking at Washington:   The Huskies have advanced to nine straight NCAA Tournaments, winning it all in 2005. They were picked to place third out of 12 teams in this year's Pacific-12 Conference race. Washington returns four starters and seven letterwinners from last season's 24-9 team that went 10-8 in league play to place fifth, advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight and finished the season ranked sixth by the AVCA. The Huskies are in their 11st season under coach Jim McLaughlin who is 248-69 at Washington.   

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