LARAMIE, Wyo. (RELEASE)- Head coach Chad Callihan became the winningest coach in Wyoming Cowgirl Volleyball history Friday as the Cowgirls swept their way to a pair of wins in the opening day of the UniWyo Invite. Wyoming defeated Buffalo 25-11, 25-13 and 25-20 in its first match of the tournament before picking up a 25-13, 25-21 and 27-25 in the nightcap against College of Charleston, giving coach Callihan his 125th victory at Wyoming, passing Mike English.
“I’m just really lucky to have worked with some amazing players, some wonderful coaches, it’s been a fun ride,” said Callihan following his record-breaking victory.
“We’re really lucky to have the job that we have and to work with the young women that we do each day. I’m just really proud of this particular group tonight.”
The Cowgirls jumped on the Bulls early in the first contest of the day, sprinting out to leads of 10-4 and 13-5 before going on a run later in the set and leading by as many as 14 at 24-10. Hailey Zuroske led Wyoming with five kills in the set and hitting .625. As a team, the Cowgirls hit .381 in the opening set while holding Buffalo to a -.111 hitting percentage.
Set two didn’t start off as dominate as the first for the Pokes, but eventually turned into a runaway. After an early back-and-forth part of the set, UW eventually found its footing and built up a 12-7 lead before a Bulls timeout. From there on, Wyoming went on a 13-6 run the rest of the set and cruised to a set two win.
The third set started off sluggish for the Cowgirls as Buffalo got out to an early 7-3 lead before a Wyoming timeout. The Pokes would battle back to cut the deficit down to a single point or two on multiple occasions before Buffalo called a timeout leading 16-15.
Following the timeout, the Cowgirls would tie the set at 18-18 before eventually snagging the lead with four consecutive points to take a 20-18 advantage. The Cowgirls took control down the stretch, closing the final set on a 9-2 run to seal the sweep.
As a team, Wyoming hit .341 while holding to Bulls to just a .023 team hitting percentage. The Cowgirls also out-blocked Buffalo 6-2 and had four service aces while Buffalo had none.
Zuroske paced Wyoming with 12 kills in the opening match and also hit a match-high .476. KC McMahon added 10 while Jackie McBride and Tara Traphagan had seven and six, respectively. Mackenzie Coates led the way with 30 assists in the win and was one of four Cowgirls with an ace.
The Cowgirls defense, much like its offense, was very balanced in the victory as Madi Fields led the way with eight digs while Zuroske added seven. Traphagn had five while Coates added four. At the net, Faith Waitsman led the way defensively with five total (two solo, three assisted) blocks while Coates added a pair of block assists.
Against College of Charleston, the Cowgirls again got out to a fast start, scoring the first four points of the match. Wyoming controlled much of the action in the opening set, leading by as many as 13 points and never relinquishing the lead. With a 10-9 lead early in the set, the Cowgirls exploded on for 10-0 run to build a 19-9 lead and cruised to a set victory.
In set two, the two teams traded points until Wyoming pushed in front with a 5-4 lead and would eventually extend its lead to 11-8, forcing a Cougars timeout. After three straight points from the Pokes that pushed their lead from 16-14 to 19-14, Charleston was forced to call its final timeout of the set.
The Cougars would not go quietly though, cutting a 21-15 deficit down to 22-20 later in the set. Wyoming would answer however, closing the set on a 3-1 spurt. McMahon had both kills for the Cowgirls to end the second.
Set three was easily the most exciting of the match, with Wyoming jumping out to an early lead of three points multiple times. Charleston would claw its way back into the set however, tying the score at 10-10. After the Cougars tied it, the Cowgirls regained the lead, pushing in front at 14-11, triggering a Charleston timeout.
After the timeout, the Cougars would score the next five points, regaining the lead at 16-14 and forcing a timeout of Wyoming. The timeout didn’t slow Charleston’s momentum at all as it built its lead up further to 19-15. The Cowgirls would respond though, forcing the Cougars’ final timeout after cutting the deficit to 19-18.
The Pokes would find themselves trailing by two points twice, at 21-19 and 22-20 but were able to tie the score after both deficits and eventually take the lead. Wyoming was finally able to close out the match after its first two match points were thwarted off by the Cougars.
McMahon led the way offensively against College of Charleston, tallying 12 kills and a team-best .400 hitting percentage while McBride hit .348 and had 10 kills. McBride also had a monster night defensively at the net, recording nine total blocks, three solos and six assisted. Coates had another solid outing at setter, racking up 32 assists in the sweep and adding eight digs.
Kiahlei Yaste led the way in the back row with 17 digs in the win while Fields’ 16 digs ties her with Jodi Purdy for second place on the all-time career digs list with 1,278. Fields entered the tournament with 1,254 in her stellar career.
“I thought there were some things this afternoon defensively that we could get better at,” said Callihan of the two wins.
“I was really pleased when we got out there this evening, I thought we fixed some things that we talked about. I’m just really impressed with what they did there in the third set, getting down and responding late, we haven’t seen that yet with this group. It’s nice to see us tested, nice to look up on the scoreboard and see that you’re down and still find a way to fight through it. Overall it was a good day for us.”
Wyoming closes the UniWyo Invite Saturday evening as it hosts Northern Colorado is a 6 p.m., match. The Bears won both of their contests Friday as well, also beating Buffalo and College of Charleston.