BYU women's volleyball: Cougars primed to open NCAA Tournament
Provo • Of course, BYU women's volleyball coach Shawn Olmstead will scout and prepare for New Mexico State.
However, working on the theory that's it's best to improve what you know, Olmstead's focus is on fine-tuning his No. 16-ranked Cougars in preparation of Friday's opening round of the NCAA Tournament their first since a run to the quarterfinals in 2007.
"This is what we've been working for," said Olmstead, the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year. "Let's finish strong. To go on the road and beat [No. 19] Pepperdine to win the conference championship is pretty remarkable."
To win the powerful WCC title in his second year as BYU coach is remarkable, especially in light of the conference sending six teams to the NCAA Tournament. Only the Pac-12 and Big Ten sent more seven.
The 12th-seeded Cougars (26-3) play NMSU (22-10) in the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday at 7 p.m., immediately following Arizona State (20-13) and Oklahoma (21-10), which play at 5 p.m. The winners play Saturday at 7 p.m. BYU's game will be televised on BYUtv.
"We're going to stay focused on our side of the ball," BYU setter Heather Hannemann said. "We're ready for anything we face. We're confident."
And why not?
"Getting home court is huge," said Hannemann of BYU's 12-0 record in Provo. "The crowds we get are awesome."
The Cougars also have the league's Player of the Year (Jennifer Hamson), the Defensive Player of the Year (Nicole Warner) and the Freshman of the Year (Alexa Gray). Hannemann was an all-WCC honorable mention.
Hamson leads the Cougars with 4.02 kills a set, while Warner finished third nationally at 1.75 blocks.
New Mexico State can be considered a Cinderella team. The Aggies were the lowest seed to win the WAC Tournament, upsetting Utah State and Idaho to win the automatic qualifying bid.
Meredith Hays averages 3.97 kills and 2.31 digs per set.
"I felt like we deserved a seed," Olmstead said. "I believe we'll play well."
NCAA women's volleyball tournament
P Friday, Smith Fieldhouse, Provo
• Oklahoma (21-10 Big 12) vs. Arizona State (20-13 Pac-12), 5 p.m.
• New Mexico State (22-10 WAC) vs. BYU (26-3 WCC), 7 p.m., BYUtv
BYU in the NCAA Tournament
2000 • 2-1 (Sweet 16)
2001 • 0-1
2003 • 1-1 (2nd round)
2005 • 0-1
2006 • 1-1 (2nd round)
2007 • 3-1 (Elite 8)