Everybody turns up their play in the postseason, and so I think that was good for us to know that we can battle and that we can come back. —Amy Boswell
PROVO — The 10th-ranked BYU women's volleyball team is no stranger to making good runs in the NCAA tournament and look poised to do it again starting with a first-round match versus Princeton. The Cougars will square off against the Tigers at home this Friday after finishing the regular season with a thrilling comeback win over Loyola Marymount to clinch an outright West Coast Conference championship.
According to senior Amy Boswell, everything one needs to know about this year's team and its success can be encapsulated in the comeback win over the Lions.
When asked to characterize this year's team, the senior captain responded, "I think you saw it in that Tuesday match. Just we do not quit and if you’re going to beat us, you’re going to have to work for it.”
In that match against LMU, the Cougars went down two sets to none, with the Lions dominating play by winning each of those sets 25-16. As the team gathered to reassess its play and perhaps rally, Boswell described the team galvanizing its resolve.
“I think there was just that fire that lit up,” Boswell said.
The Cougars responded by taking the next two sets (25-20 and 25-22) before coming on top of a hard-fought tiebreaker by the score of 15-13.
As a fourth-year player who has made good runs in the NCAA tournament, including 2014's march to the championship match, Boswell knows what it takes and is working to impart that knowledge on BYU's young team.
“It’s going to take that fight and that energy. That’s what it’s going to take for the rest of this season,” Boswell said. “Everybody turns up their play in the postseason, and so I think that was good for us to know that we can battle and that we can come back. But also to learn that lesson that we can’t dig ourselves into that hole.”
Boswell beams when talking about how this young team has come together. Not a lot was expected of the Cougars in the preseason. But then they exceeded expectations by forging a 27-3 record, a West Coast Conference championship and a No. 13-seed in the NCAA tournament.
“Coming into this season everyone thought of us as the underdog, and personally I love being the underdog,” Boswell said. “So just that fact that we’ve played as well as we have — it’s something that we knew we could do from the beginning and it’s just fun to see how it’s all panned out.”
Throughout the season the Cougars have had to rely on a lot of young players including freshmen McKenna Miller and Mary Lake. Miller, who plays outside hitter, leads the team in kills while Lake, who plays libero, leads the team in digs.
Other key underclassmen include sophomore twins Lacie and Lyndie Haddock along with sophomore Veronica Jones-Perry.
‘They’ve been a huge part of our team. I think those players have stepped in beautifully," Boswell said of her younger teammates.
The winner of Friday's match takes on the winner of Utah versus UNLV Saturday night. The Cougars are familiar with both opponents, having taken down the Rebels in straight sets earlier in the season while losing a five-set thriller against the Utes on Sept. 15.
While the focus is on taking on Princeton this Friday, Miller admitted after Tuesday's practice the excitement within the team at the prospect of perhaps exacting revenge against the Utes.
“You could, like, tell — when they announced it — you could just feel the excitement pick up a notch because we want revenge for the last game,” Miller said. “We want to win a more important game.”
The Cougars' first serve against Princeton is set for 7 p.m. MST, following Utah's match vs. UNLV at 5 p.m. The Cougars' match will be televised live on BYUtv.