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BYU athletics: Women's sports are flourishing this fall

Published September 29, 2016 2:24 pm

BYU athletics • Soccer, volleyball in top 15 nationally.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • As its fanbase is well aware, BYU's football team is off to a 1-3 start, having lost close games to Power 5 conference foes Utah, UCLA and West Virginia while edging Arizona in its season opener.

However, the Cougars' other fall teams have been more than willing to pick up the slack.

"Our coaches have done a great job, and we have been really fortunate to have really good players, difference-makers," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. "It's been a great fall for all our women's teams."



A quick update:

• Arguably the marquee women's sport at the school, soccer leads the way, posting a 9-1 record. Having played perhaps its most difficult nonconference schedule ever, coach Jennifer Rockwood's team is ranked No. 3 in the nation and was No. 2 in the first Rating Percentage Index (RPI) of the season before dropping to No. 3 when it embarked on its West Coast Conference schedule last week.

"Well, we knew coming into the season that with the schedule we planned, if we got good results, it would put us near the top," Rockwood said. "You never know how the RPI is going to work, and you never have control over what your opponents are going to do, but we also knew that this could be one of the best teams that we have had, so I really wanted to challenge them."

The Cougars have won eight straight, the second-longest active winning streak in the nation.

Rockwood said it will be difficult to maintain a lofty RPI — an important factor in earning a high NCAA Tournament seed and home matches in that tournament — because the WCC didn't have a strong nonconference showing overall.

"So I don't think there is a way to keep it, even if we were to win out, which is obviously what our goal is," she said. "But that is tough to do in our conference."

Soccer has become so popular in Provo that Holmoe said the school is exploring ways to increase the seating capacity at South Field, the area south of Smith Fieldhouse where matches are played.

"Our vision is to build somewhat of a stadium around it … and bring a really nice feel to it, like a facade to it, to add to the ambiance and create something special there," he said.

• Women's volleyball has been strong at BYU for decades — since legendary coach Elaine Michaelis took the program to national prominence in her 40 seasons at the helm. This season, the second under coach Heather Olmstead, is no exception.

Ranked 11th in the country with a 14-1 record, the Cougars have made four straight trips to at least the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. They are led by returning starters Amy Boswell, Cosy Burnett, Lacy Haddock and Whitney Young Howard and will face No. 6 San Diego on Friday in California.

"Heather is doing a great job," Holmoe said. "With girls' volleyball being so big in Utah, at the high school and club sport levels, we have a real advantage with our personnel group, our recruiting pool. And once you get good, you get good recruits."

• Women's golf coach Carrie Summerhays Roberts elevated the program to new heights last spring, as the 2015-16 Cougars won four tournaments, their first WCC title, and reached the NCAA Division I championships. They have placed fourth at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate in Nashville, Tenn., and first in the recent Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational in San Jose, Calif. Utah Women's Amateur champion Kendra Dalton has teamed with Alexandra White, Brooklyn Hocker and Rose Huang, a top-20 national recruit a year ago, to give Roberts her most solid team ever.

• Both of BYU's cross-country teams are off to excellent starts, evidenced by their sweeping of the Virginia/Panorama Fields Invitational last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. The men's team is ranked No. 1 in the country in at least one poll. Not to be outdone, the women's team vaulted from No. 19 to No. 15 with the win.

"This was a great confidence-builder for us again, just like the Autumn Classic was, [but] against higher ranked national opponents," said new assistant women's cross country and distance coach Diljeet Taylor.

Senior Yesenia Silva was fourth overall in Virginia, while sophomore Erica Birk-Jarvis was fifth and freshman Olivia Hoj 11th.

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay —

BYU women's fall sports success

Volleyball • 14-1 overall, ranked No. 11 nationally and in RPI

Soccer • 9-1 overall, ranked No. 3 nationally and in RPI

Golf • First at Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational in San Jose, 4th at Mercedes-Benz Collegiate in Nashville

Cross Country • First at Virginia/Panorama Fields Invitational in Charlottesville, Va.

 

 

 

 

 

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