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Women's Volleyball Bounces its Way to Sweet 16

The BYU Women's Volleyball team has been nothing short of phenomenal this season. After going 15-3 in the West Coast Conference and finishing their second season in a row undefeated at home, the Cougars found themselves with an invite to the NCAA tournament. This is BYU's second straight appearance in the tourney, reaching the Sweet 16 last year before losing to Oregon. But what's truly impressive is not just how they've played this season, but with (or better, without) how they've done it. 

This year the Lady Cougars have done just as much and possibly more than last year's squad, without the help of 3 outstanding players: Setter Heather Hanneman, who finished 8th in career assists at BYU, and Middle Blocker Nicole Warner, who had the second most blocks per set in the nation. Both received All-American Honorable Mention last year, and both graduated. There's also a 6 foot 7 inch void at the net left by All American Jennifer Hamson who redshirted this year to focus on basketball. 

With such a huge loss of talent, everyone's expectations were low coming into this year; that is, everyone's but BYU's. After making the playoffs, the Cougars beat Arizona State Friday and then swept 11th ranked Hawaii on their home court Saturday. Now they head to Los Angeles, set to take on #6 USC in the Regional Semifinal Friday night at the Galen Center. BYU Coach Shawn Olmstead says the experience of the players who made this trip last year is a big help this time around. “I think there’s been sort of a calming influence. Now you’re at the next stage you know and we talk about that all the time. So, I like that they’re kind of taking the girls under their wings and preparing them for what’s going to happen," Olmstead said.  

While preparing for their next matchup, a couple of key players received some big time honors this week. Sophomore Hitter Alexa Grey, who has been killing it all season long, received AVCA All-Pacific South Region honors. After receiving honorable mention last year, it's been no surprise that Grey has led the Cougars with 3.91 kills per set. What has been a surprise is the performance of BYU Setter Camry Godfrey, who received AVCA All-Pacific South Region honorable mention in her first year setting for BYU as a juco transfer. Actually, this is Godfrey's first year setting since high school, so coming in at 40th in assists in the NCAA ain't bad. 

As mentioned, BYU's had a spectacular run, surpassing expectations and overcoming opponents along the way. With the 6th ranked Trojans as their next obstacle, critics are stacking the odds against the Cougars. But don't be shocked if BYU outdoes itself; it wouldn't be the first time. 

From the desk of Alan Miller, a producer for BYU Sports Nation, on BYU Radio.

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