This Week: Mountain West Tournament
Boise State (16-14, 6-8 MW) is off to the Mountain West Tournament this week in Albuquerque, N.M. The Broncos who tied for fifth in the regular season standings enter the competition as the sixth seed and will face the three-seed TCU Horned Frogs (22-6, 9-5 MW) at 2:30 p.m. (Mountain) on Friday in the quarterfinals. The match will be televised live on the Mountain Sports Network (The Mtn.) with AnneMarie Anderson and Amy Grant calling the action.
The winner of the Boise State-TCU match would then face the winner of the No. 2 San Diego State (17-8, 10-4 MW) versus No. 7 UNLV (12-16, 4-10 MW) match at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday in the semifinals. This match will also be televised on The Mtn. The championship match is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on CBS Sports Network with Jason Knapp and Tammy Blackburn calling the final.
Mountain West Quarterfinal Vs. TCU
The Broncos opened the 2011 Mountain West Volleyball Tournament against TCU, a team that swept them in the regular season and leads the all-time series 3-0. Boise State took the Horned Frogs to five sets and led two sets to one in Boise before falling 22-25, 25-21, 17-25, 25-18 and 15-7. In Fort Worth, Texas, TCU defeated the Broncos in straight sets 29-27, 25-17 and 25-16.
Liz Harden led the Broncos in the season series against TCU with 23 points on 22 kills, and two block assists in addition to hitting 20.6 percent. Elizabeth Griffin was next with 20.5 points on 18 kills and five block assists while hitting 24.5 percent, followed by Breann Nesselhuf with 20 points on 18 kills, one solo block and two block assists. Nesselhuf also had a team-high 54 assists and 14 digs, while Casey Rose added 33 assists and 18 digs. Amanda Remy had a team-best 40 digs as the libero.
TCU was led by Jordan Raines with 44 points on 40 kills, one ace and six block assists, she kit 42.5 percent versus the Broncos. Kristen Hester was second in scoring with 29 points on 21 kills, one ace, one solo block and 12 block assists. Yvonne Igodan added 25.5 points on 22 kills and seven block assists.
TCU out hit Boise State 28.9 percent to 20.5 percent during the series and out blocked the Broncos 21.5 to 14.
A Quick Look at Boise State
As a Team
The Broncos won three of their last four games, all at home, defeating Utah Valley (30-32, 25-22, 25-20, 26-24) and Air Force (25-13, 25-23, 25-16), then lost to San Diego State (25-15, 25-10, 25-23) before rebounding to down UNLV (23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 21-25, 15-8).
In Boise State's first season as Mountain West members they went 16-14 overall and 6-8 in league to tie for fifth-place and earn the sixth seed into the tournament.
The win over UNLV in the season finale guaranteed the Broncos their first back-to-back winning seasons in 13 years.
This is Boise State's eighth consecutive year qualifying for a conference tournament. The Broncos participated in eight while members of the Western Athletic Conference over the previous 10 seasons going 3-8 during that time frame, 1-2 under head coach Shawn Garus in 2009 (1-1) and 2010 (0-1).
Offensively, the Broncos have hit the ball well at times with eight matches over .300, including a school record .585 (45-7-65) versus Texas Southern (Sept. 16). On the year Boise State is hitting .218 (5th MW). The Broncos average 12.81 kills per set (4th in MW), 12.08 assists (3rd in MW) and 1.19 service aces (5th MW).
Defensively, Boise State averages 14.07 digs per set (t-5th in MW), 1.93 blocks (5th in MW), while holding opponents to a .213 hitting percentage (7th in MW).
Boise State has won eight three-set matches and is 8-7 overall in contests decided in three sets. They are 8-7 in sets that extend to four or more, 4-3 in four sets and 4-4 in five sets.
The Broncos have played well on the road this year going 11-9 (6-7 away, 5-2 neutral) and are went 5-5 at home.
Broncos to Watch / Notes
Breann Nesselhuf, senior setter: Nesselhuf is the only returning all-conference player for Boise State, one of three honored by the WAC last year and her second all-league award. The senior setter entered the year ranked sixth in career assists with 2,275, she has since moved to fifth with a team-high 780 this season for a career total of 3,055. The Swink, Colo., native is only the fifth Bronco all-time to surpass 3,000 career assists and the only the second to do it in three years. Nesselhuf has recorded Boise State's first triple-doubles since 2006 and only the second and third since the inception of rally scoring in 2001 when she had 10 kills, 24 assists and career-high 19 digs at UNLV (10/13/11), then followed that with 13 kills, 30 assists and 15 digs versus the Rebels in Boise on Nov. 12. The senior had a career-high 16 kills and 17 points against Wyoming (10/22/11). She is the only Bronco this year to be named to two all-tournament teams.
Liz Harden, junior outside hitter: Harden leads the Broncos in scoring at 331 points on 303 kills (2.71 kps), hits .213 percent and has 45 blocks on the year. Harden is currently ranked sixth all-time in career points at Boise State 821, she needs one point to move into 10th-place for points in a season. Harden hit a career-high .818 percent (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, which is tied for second most kills all-time in a five set match (since rally scoring); career-high seven block assists versus Seattle on Oct. 4.
Fiona Jones, junior outside hitter: Jones is the top scorer returning from 2010 when she recorded 331 points, third overall on team. Jones suffered a season ending injury at UNLV on Oct. 13. At the time of her injury she ranked second on the team with 220.5 points while hitting .156 percent with 194 kills, eight aces, six solo blocks and 25 block assists.
Darlene Nwagbuo, redshirt-senior middle blocker: Nwagbuo has only played two seasons for the Broncos with this year being a standout performance. The San Diego, Calif., native is third in points on the team with 252 on 197 kills, eight solo blocks and 94 block assists, both team highs. She has a team-best hitting percentage in league of 33.3 percent to rank fifth in the MW, as well as a number five ranking in blocks at 1.11. Her season hitting percentage of 32.4 is fifth in the league, 109th nationally and ranked tied for ninth all-time at Boise State. She is currently ranked second all-time at BSU in career hitting percentage at 3.23 percent and is tied for 10th in block average at 0.99 bps. On Sept. 17 she recorded the seventh-best match hitting percentage all-time at 73.3 (11-0-15) against Arkansas-Little Rock. Nwagbuo had a career-high 16 kills against UNLV on Nov. 12.
Elizabeth Griffin, senior outside hitter: Griffin entered her senior campaign ranked 10th for career points with 529. She now ranks seventh overall after adding 253 points this year for a total of 782. Griffin is second in points this season with 232 kills (.144) and 41 block assists. Recorded a career-high six blocks against New Mexico on Oct. 1.
Brittany Reardon, redshirt-freshman middle blocker: Reardon is ranked 29th nationally (as of 11/15/11) and leads the Mountain West for hitting percentage at .364. She is on course to set the school record for season hitting percentage currently ranked first. She has made an impact for the Broncos as a redshirt freshman ranking fifth in points with 225 on 176 kills, eight aces, seven solo blocks and team second-best 68 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. Hit .615 (9-1-13) at Air Force on Oct. 8.
Amanda Remy, senior libero: Remy leads the Broncos defensive efforts with a team-high 460 digs, second most all-time in a season. She recently moved into the top 10 for career digs and is currently ranked sixth with 1,238, 12 short of tying for fifth.
The Man in Charge
Shawn Garus, Head Coach: Garus is in his third season in charge of the Broncos where he has gone 45-48 overall, including a 16-14 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 160-168 (.488) in his 11th season.
Last Week for the Broncos
Boise State closed its first regular season in the Mountain West with a home split losing 3-0 to San Diego State, then rebounded to defeat UNLV in five on Senior Day. The win over UNLV clinched the Broncos their first back-to-back winning seasons in 13 years at 16-14, it also earned them a tie for fifth in the league standings with New Mexico at 6-8 and the sixth seed into the conference tournament.
Liz Harden led Boise State during the week with 28.5 points on 26 kills, one ace and three block assists. Darlene Nwagbuo was second with 27.5 points recording 23 kills, one solo block and team-high seven block assists while hitting a team-best 38.6 percent. Elizabeth Griffin followed with 22 points on 20 kills, one solo block and two block assists. The team hit a combined 20.6 percent compared to the opponents at 27.7 percent.
The Match/Series: TCU brings a 22-6 overall and 9-5 mark into the tournament. The Horned Frogs tied with Wyoming for third place in the standings but won the tiebreaker on total points to earn the three seed into the championship event. They have never lost to the Broncos in three previous encounters including a five-set victory in Boise on Sept. 29 and a three set sweep on Oct. 29 in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Horned Frogs Recently: TCU split at home last week defeating the regular-season champion Colorado State in five before losing to Wyoming by the same match score. Kristen Hester leads TCU on th eyear with 402.5 points on 344 kills, 23 service aces, 11 solo blocks and 49 block assists while hitting 34.8 percent on the year. Jordan Raines is second with 366.5 points on 330 kills (.226), 17 aces, three solo blocks and 33 block assists.
Looking at TCU: The Horned Frogs were picked to place fourth in the MW preseason coaches poll. TCU returns four starters and seven letterwinners from last season's 15-16 campaign when they went 5-11 in league play to place tied for seventh out of nine. The Frogs are coached by Prentice Lewis who is 193-129 in her 10th season at the school.