Boise State Volleyball Opens Mountain West Play
What's Happening This Week
The Broncos (8-4) conclude a 14-match road swing this week when they open their first ever Mountain West campaign with road matches at the University of Wyoming (9-5) and Colorado State University (6-3). The action begins with a 7:00 p.m. (all times in this release are Mountain) start Thursday night at the UniWyo Sports Complex in Laramie, Wyo., as the Cowgirls usher in Boise State's inaugural campaign in the Mountain West. The Broncos will then travel south for a 1:00 p.m. encounter Saturday afternoon with perennial conference powerhouse Colorado State in Moby Arena at Fort Collins, Colo.
Following the two road contests, Boise State will then host its first home match of the year when the Weber State University Wildcats come too town Monday night, Sept. 26. The Broncos will host the Wildcats at 7:00 p.m. in Bronco Gym.
A Quick Look at Boise State
Last Week for the Broncos
Boise State had a busy schedule last week as they played five matches away from home. The Broncos opened with four consecutive 3-0 victories before dropping the fifth contest in five sets at No. 22 Oklahoma as they improved to 8-4 overall heading into Mountain West play this week. The blue and orange hit the ball solid last week starting with the first match on Tuesday at Weber State in Ogden, Utah, where the Broncos hit .434 percent as they swept the Wildcats 25-21, 25-19 and 25-14.
Boise State then traveled to Norman, Okla., to compete in the Sooner Legends Nike Invitational where they went 3-1 losing only to its host the then-No. 22 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in five sets. The Broncos opened with three straight set victories defeating Texas Southern (25-8, 25-15, 25-4), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (25-9, 25-13, 25-14) and Arkansas-Little Rock (25-19, 25-16, 25-15). Boise State hit a school record 58.5 percent (45-7-65) against Texas Southern Friday morning followed by 43 percent versus UAPB and 35.6 percent in the UALR match.
The Broncos opened well against Oklahoma taking a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set when the Sooners seized control to win it down the stretch including 15-4 in the final set. The Broncos hit 25.3 percent versus the Sooners.
Griffin and Nesselhuf Named to All-Tournament Team
NORMAN, Okla. (9/17/2011) - Breann Nesselhuf and Elizabeth Griffin were named to the Sooner Legends Nike Invitational All-Tournament Team as they led Boise State to a second-place finish with a 3-1 tournament record. Nesselhuf started all-four matches scoring 37.5 points and hit 41.3 percent as she recorded 31 kills on 63 attempts with five errors to go with 80 assists, four service aces, 30 digs and five block assists. Griffin's tournament stats included 29.5 points, hit 37.9 percent, 28 kills in 58 attempts with six errors, one assist, seven digs and three block assists. She played in all four matches with three starts.
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
Liz Harden, junior outside hitter: Harden returned as the second highest scorer from last year with 278 points. To date, she leads the Broncos in scoring at 138.5 points on 129 kills (2.87 kps), hits .276 percent and has 18 blocks on the year. Harden now has 628.5 career points to rank eighth all-time at Boise State. She hit a career-high .818 (18-0-22) at Weber State on Sept. 13, which ranks fourth all-time at Boise State. In addition, Harden recorded a career-high 27 kills at Eastern Washington on Aug. 31, tied for second most kills all-time in a five set match (since rally scoring).
Fiona Jones, junior outside hitter: Jones is the top scorer returning from 2010 when she recorded 331 points, third overall on team. Jones currently ranks second this year with 125.5 points in 44 sets while hitting .138 percent with 111 kills, four aces, five solo blocks and 11 block assists. She recorded a career-high for kills with 18 against Drake on Aug. 27 and a career-best 20 digs versus Pacific on Aug. 26.
Elizabeth Griffin, senior outside hitter: Griffin entered her senior campaign ranked 10th for career points with 529. She now ranks seventh overall after adding 101.5 points through 12 matches this year for a total of 630.5. Griffin is fourth in points this season with 98 kills (.188) and seven block assists.
Brittany Reardon, redshirt-freshman middle blocker: Reardon is ranked ninth nationally and leads the Mountain West in hitting percentage at .428 (89-15-173). She has made an early impact for the Broncos ranking third in points with 111 on 89 kills, three aces, four solo blocks and team second-best 30 block assists. Reardon hit a career-high .846 (11-0-13) against Texas Southern on Sept. 16, ranking second all-time for match hitting percentage.
Breann Nesselhuf, senior setter: Nesselhuf is the only returning all-conference player for Boise State, one of three honored last year. The senior setter entered the year ranked sixth in career assists with 2,275, she has since moved to fifth with a team-high 390 this season for a career total of 2,665. Nesselhuf is also ranked fourth in career assists average at 9.59 through 12 matches in 2011, she is averaging 8.48 this year. She is the only Bronco this year to be named to two all-tournament teams.
The Man in Charge
Shawn Garus, Head Coach: Garus is in his third season in charge of the Broncos where he has gone 37-38 overall, including a 8-4 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 152-158 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 of membership.
Matches 13-14, Mountain West Action Begins
Scouting Match #13 at Wyoming
The Match/Series: The Broncos will usher in their Mountain West membership with the inaugural match against Wyoming Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. in the UniWyo Sports Complex at Laramie, Wyo. The only common opponents this year are Drake and Gonzaga which were both defeated by Wyoming and Boise State. The Cowgirls swept both 3-0, hosting Gonzaga, while the Broncos beat Drake 3-2 and Gonzaga 3-1 away from Boise. Wyoming leads the all-time series 7-4, however, Boise State won last year in Laramie 3-0 (28-26, 26-24, 25-23).
The Cowgirls Recently: Wyoming is 9-5 entering the week, coming off a 3-1 week when they defeated UNC-Wilmington 3-0, North Florida (3-1) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 3-0. Wyoming's lone loss last week was the final at the College of Charlston by a 3-1 margin. Junior outside hitter Jodi Purdy, a preseason All-MW selection, leads the Cowgirls on the year with 219.5 points on 181 kills (.212), 20 aces, four solo blocks and 29 block assists. She ranks second in the MW for points, kills and aces. Erin Kirby follows with 131.5 points on 103 kills (.367), seven block solos and 43 block assists. She ranks third in the MW for total blocks.
Looking at Wyoming: The UW is a charter member of the Mountain West where they were picked just above the Broncos for fifth-place in this year's preseason poll. The Cowgirls return two starters and nine letterwinners from last season's 22-10 campaign when they went 7-9 in league play to place sixth out of nine. Wyoming is coached by Carrie Yerty who is 49-53 in her fourth season at the school.
Scouting Match #14 at No. 20 Colorado State
The Match/Series: Boise State travels to Colorado State for its second Mountain West match ever. The Rams a perennial powers in the conference and have advanced to 22 NCAA tournament all-time, including 16 straight. This will be a big match for the Broncos as they navigate through their new league and see where they stand as a program with the other teams in the MW. Saturday's encounter with Colorado State will be the third all-time between the two programs with the Rams winning the previous two. The two schools have not played since the fall of 1995.
The Rams Recently: Colorado State lost its lone match last week 3-1 at Denver. The Rams have big wins over Arkansas (3-0) and at Nebraska (3-2) who was ranked fifth at the time. The lone common opponent is Oklahoma which defeated CSU 3-0 and Boise State 3-2, both in Norman, Okla. Katelyn Steffan leads CSU with 132.5 points on 113 kills (.210), seven aces, two block solos and 21 block assists. The Rams also feature the MW Preseason Player of the Year in senior middle blocker Megan Plourde who has 82 points on 58 kills (.262), two aces, one block solo and 42 block assists.
Looking at CSU: Like Wyoming, CSU is a charter member of the Mountain West where they have won eight of the 13 league championships since the conference started in 1998. They have also won three of the last four titles including 2009 and 2010. The Rams are currently ranked No. 20 by the AVCA and are the preseason favorites to win the Mountain West. The Rams return four starters and seven letterwinners from last season's 26-5 campaign when they went 14-2 in league play to win back-to-back championships. Colorado State is coached by Tom Hilbert, a former University of Idaho head coach, who is 364-93 in his 15th season in Fort Collins.
Match 15, The Broncos Come Home
Scouting Match #15 vs Weber State
The Match/Series: Monday, Sept. 26, will see the Broncos at home for the first time this season after 14-straight contests on the road to open the campaign. Boise State will play host to Weber State at 7:00 p.m. in Bronco Gym. This will be the second match between the two teams this year with the Broncos winning in three on Tuesday, Sept. 13, in Ogden.
The Wildcats Recently: Is coming off a five-set loss to Utah Valley Tuesday night. They enter the weekend at 0-13 overall and 0-2 in Big Sky Conference play. Bethany Wray leads the Wildcats with 164 points on 146 kills (.159) 10 aces, one block solo and 14 block assists.
Looking at Weber State: Weber State is the third Big Sky Conference school the Broncos have met so far in 2011. The Wildcats were picked to place ninth out of nine teams in this year's league race by the conference's coaches. Weber State returns three starters and eight letterwinners from last season's 4-27 campaign when they went 2-14 in league play to place ninth. The Wildcats are coached by Tom Peterson who is 0-13 in his first season at the school.
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