The University of Wyoming women’s volleyball program is at a place where disappointments are more of a motivating factor than successes.
The Cowgirls are 5-1 after the first two weekends of the regular season and received votes in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll for a second straight week.
Yet most of the team’s attention has centered around the only loss — a 3-2 setback at the University of Portland last Friday.
“We went 2-1 (last weekend), and I think there’s a disappointment in the air right now,” Cowgirls coach Chad Callihan said. “That’s the expectations and the goals we’ve set for ourselves. If you’re truly serious about being an elite team, you don’t allow yourself to get in that situation.
“It was nice to see us not bow down when we got down 2-0. But if we competed that hard from the beginning, it would have been a different outcome.”
It wasn’t so much losing to the Pilots (6-0), but how the Cowgirls lost that has the team in a sour mood.
UW won the first set in each of its first four matches prior to meeting Portland. But the Pilots dominated the Cowgirls in the first set to the tune of 25-12. UW then lost the second set 27-25. The team battled back to win the next two sets and had a 10-9 lead in the fifth before losing 15-11.
“We just did not show up to play, and we were not mentally there for the Portland match,” UW senior middle blocker Reed Copeland said. “No matter who the opponent is, we need to show up and be focused.”
That begins this weekend as UW hosts the UniWyo Invitational at the UniWyo Sports Complex.
The Cowgirls play Binghamton at noon today, Arizona State at 7 tonight and Murray State at 1 p.m. Saturday in the round-robin event.
Both Callihan and Copeland said the team is done looking in the rearview mirror and is focused on this weekend. And there’s plenty to focus on.
It’s a schedule that presents its own challenges.
UW will host a Binghamton team that has started the season 0-6. The Sun Devils are 5-1, with their only loss to Missouri. The Racers (4-2) were picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference after winning the title in three of the last four seasons.
Callihan said he’s concerned his team might overlook Binghamton with Arizona State looming later tonight, and he’s also worried about the quick turnaround tomorrow in facing Murray State.
“We’re really focusing on our side of the court and focusing on the things we can do to improve,” Copeland said. “There’s definitely some areas that we can improve that don’t rely on other teams.”
The Cowgirls (3-1-1) are coming off their first loss of the season Tuesday at Northern Colorado, a 4-1 setback that didn’t sit well with UW coach Pete Cuadrado.
“We didn’t show up to play,” Cuadrado said after the loss. “It was a very disappointing effort, and the result showed it.”
UW hosts two matches this weekend at the Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex to try and get the taste of Tuesday’s defeat out of its mouth.
The Cowgirls play Montana (1-3-1) at 4 p.m. today and Iowa (4-0-1) at noon Sunday.
The Lady Griz have gotten off to a slow start, but return eight starters from last season’s 10-win club. Montana has scored just two goals this season and is coming off a 0-0 tie at home against North Dakota.
The matchup against the Hawkeyes will be the first home match against a Big Ten team in program history and just the second against a Big Ten team ever.
Following this weekend, UW will have one nonconference match left — Sept. 14 at Southern Utah — before the Mountain West schedule begins Sept. 21 at San Diego State.
The UW men’s golf team opens the 2018-19 schedule in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational.
The Cowboys have a busy fall, with four tournaments over the next month before finishing the fall schedule in Hawaii in early November.
UW lost four seniors from last year’s team, but returns its top two players in former Laramie standout John Murdock and Dan Starzinski. Murdock, a senior, won the individual title at the 2017 Falcon Invite by five strokes with a 14-under-par 202 in leading the Cowboys to the team title.
Sophomores Jared Edeen of Cheyenne and Carl Underwood also return for UW.