Test time has come early for the BYU women's volleyball team.
Just two weeks into the 1998 season, the Cougars host No. 1 ranked Long Beach State Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Smith Fieldhouse on Day 2 of the annual BYU Invitational."It's nice to be able to play the best and see how you measure up," said Cougar coach Elaine Michaelis.
Not only will BYU be meeting what could be the nation's top team, it also faces the country's No. 1 player in senior setter Misty May, the national player of the year in 1997.
But BYU, sporting a top 10 ranking as well as a homecourt
advantage, should pose a strong challenge to Long Beach State. Led by senior Korie Rogers, the Cougars opened the season with a 4-0 record last weekend by winning the UMass/Phoenix Invitational in Amherst, Mass. Rogers was named tournament MVP, recording a team-high 45 kills and 29 digs.
The Cougs improved to 5-0 on the year with an impressive 15-12, 15-5, 15-0 victory over No. 24 Washington State on Thursday night in the Smith Fieldhouse.
Michaelis believes her team is as good, if not better than, last year's squad, which came a match away from advancing to the Final Four and finished with a 29-6 record. Like BYU, Long Beach State lost in the Elite Eight of the 1997 NCAA tournament.
Since the season is young, Michaelis downplays somewhat the significance of the outcome of this match. "It's real early to make too much of it," she said. "It's all conjecture at this time of the year. There are a lot of strong teams out there. But we are pleased to be included in that company."
The Cougars own an all-time 4-11 record against Long Beach State, including a 15-12, 11-15, 5-15 and 6-15 loss at the Long Beach Invitational last year.