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After negotiating pandemic-filled season, BYU women’s volleyball team not sweating NCAA opponent

Whether its UCLA or Rider, Cougars are chomping at the bit to begin postseason play

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU women's volleyball coach Heather Olmstead congratulates Heather Gneiting as BYU wins the second set over Utah at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

The BYU women’s volleyball team has never been through this.

First, the team had its season postponed five months and now has waited two weeks to begin its postseason journey.

The 16th-seeded Cougars will make their NCAA Tournament debut in Thursday’s second round against an opponent that will be decided late Wednesday night. BYU will face either Rider or UCLA.

But with all the uncertainty they’ve faced the last year, the Cougars will be ready for whoever they’ll go up against on the court.

“We’ve all been through so much and there’s been so many doubts and so much uncertainty,” sophomore setter Whitney Bower said. “I think that we’ve just been tackling every situation with the best mindset and just focusing on problem solving and focusing on how best we can be as individuals and as a team.”

NCAA VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT

At Omaha, Neb.

BYU vs. Rider or UCLA

When • Thursday, 8:30 p.m. MT

Stream • ESPN3

One thing is for sure, though: BYU is chomping at the bit to start the postseason and get back in action. But the Cougars won’t be able to prepare the same as they have previously.

BYU coach Heather Olmstead said she’s fairly familiar with the Bruins, should they face them. The sixth-year coach catches plenty of UCLA games on the Pac-12 Network. Rider, however, is a different story.

The Cougars have seen some video on the Broncs, although Rider didn’t play as many matches this year as other teams.

“I think either team is going to be a challenge,” Olmstead said. “We’re excited for the opportunity to play the winner of that match. And it’s way different not knowing who you’re going to play.”

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