A balanced offense and defense combined with a stifling block led the University of Wyoming volleyball team to another quality win.
The Cowgirls put up a wall at the net en route to sweeping Murray State 25-14, 25-19, 25-21 Saturday with 743 in attendance at the UniWyo Sports Complex.
The win also secured the UniWyo Invite title for the Cowgirls (8-1 overall).
UW also beat Binghampton 3-0 and Arizona State 3-1 on Friday.
“I really like the way we’re setting the tone, really in all the matches we’ve been starting,” UW coach Chad Callihan said. “With the exception of the Portland match (a 3-2 loss Aug. 31), we’ve come out and looked like we were ready to go. I would like to see us finish matches the way we start them.
“But that’s a good Murray State team. I think if you check their record at the end of the year, they will have 20 wins and be competing for their conference championship. It was good for us to match up against a team like that.”
Murray State was picked in the preseason to win the Ohio Valley Conference, which it has done in three of the past four seasons.
UW had 22 assisted blocks, a solo block and 12 team blocks, compared to two assisted blocks and one team block for the Racers (5-4).
“(Copeland) did awesome this weekend,” UW junior defensive specialist Madi Fields said. “She had a crazy, ridiculous amount of blocks. They (all) did a great job.
“Even if they weren’t there, they were creating splits for us to fill. We just did a great job competing defensively this weekend.”
Fields and junior outside hitter Halie McArdle led the Cowgirls in the back defensively with six digs apiece. Ten different Cowgirls recorded at least one dig.
Copeland and junior outside hitter Tara Traphagan combined to lead UW offensively with eight kills each. McArdle and sophomore middle blocker Jackie McBride had seven kills apiece and senior outside hitter Emily Lewis added six kills for a balanced attack.
“That’s one thing we have an advantage over teams with — there’s not really one person you can key on for our team,” Traphagan said. “If someone is having an off game, we have the ability to reverse it and go to someone else. We have the options where anyone can put the ball away at any time.”
The Cowgirls posted a .407 hitting percentage, compared to .107 for Murray State.
UW junior setter Cori Aafedt and sophomore setter Marissa Harmon had 21 and 18 assists, respectively.
“I give a lot of credit to our setters — Cori and Marissa — they did a great job of keeping us in system this weekend,” Fields said. “We just competed well all-around — defensively, offensively and played well as a team.”
McArdle, Copeland and Aafedt were named to the UniWyo Invite all-tournament team, and McArdle was Most Valuable Player.
The Cowgirls dominated the first two sets for a quick 2-0 lead.
But the Racers rebounded in the third set for a 14-11 lead. They were led by junior outside hitter Rachel Giustino with 14 kills. Sophomore setters Callie Anderson and Ashley McBee had 18 and 14 assists, respectively. Sophomore libero Becca Fernandez had 11 digs.
The Cowgirls responded with a 9-4 run for a 20-18 lead before ending the third set with a 5-3 advantage for the match.
Up next for the Cowgirls is the Cyclone Invitational starting Thursday in Ames, Iowa. UW plays Iowa State, Syracuse and Iowa.
“Playing on Thursday will be a little unique for us. We will get used to that because we do it every conference week, but this will be the first for this season,” Callihan said. “There’s not as much time to prepare — we will go Monday, Tuesday and fly out Wednesday.
“It will be (against) three great volleyball teams and be a good opportunity for us to hopefully pick up a couple of quality wins. But we will definitely learn some things about ourselves.”