Wildcat Volleyball Is Back And It Deserves Your Attention
Updated: Feb 16
Volleyball is finally back!
After over 400 days without a competitive match, Weber State Wildcat volleyball will finally be returning to Swenson Gym this week, as the Lady Wildcats square off against Eastern Washington in Big Sky Conference matchups. You can catch the Friday and Saturday matches on Pluto TV.
If you haven’t already, here are some reasons why you need to start watching Weber State volleyball this season.
1. Last Season Was Amazing
I’m not exaggerating when I say that the 2019 campaign was the best season of Weber State volleyball in my entire life. The Wildcats’ last appearance in a major postseason tournament was the 1988 NCAA tournament. Last season, Weber State was just a few points away from winning the Big Sky Conference tournament and advancing back to the NCAA tournament. They did, however, get to the NIVC Tournament (volleyball’s equivalent to the college basketball’s NIT), advanced all the way to the quarterfinals and almost won! This year’s team looks to build off of last season’s momentum, and they should be competing for the Conference crown once again.
2. Coach Jeremiah Larsen
Larsen (he hates it when you call him “Coach”) just hit his sixth anniversary at Weber State, and it’s safe to say that his hiring completely changed the fortunes of this program. Prior to his hiring, the Wildcats simply weren’t a very good team. He transformed them into a perennial conference contender in less than five years. In addition to having incredible success, he’s shown loyalty to the school: he recently signed a contract extension that will keep him in Ogden through the 2023 season! He believes in Weber State, and it’s 100 percent reciprocated. Also, his ladies love him. Go look at Weber State Volleyball’s social media from this offseason and you’ll see his players quoting him and telling us all of his “Miah-isms,” one-liners or favorite phrases that Larsen uses. He’s a fantastic coach, a likable guy, and he’s absolutely hilarious. Weber State is lucky to have him.
3. Ashlyn Power
Ashlyn Power is the setter for the team. That position could be compared to a point guard or a quarterback. The setter’s decisions pave the way for offensive success. In Power, the Wildcats have whom Weber State Weekly believe to be the best setter in the Big Sky Conference. She also happens to be the school’s all-time leader in assists. That’s right – as a Junior, she had obliterated the previous record that stood for 35 seasons, and she will only add to it this year. Have we mentioned that last season Power was also named to the Big Sky All-Conference First-Team? Power is a phenomenal leader and an incredibly talented player that deserves the attention of the entire school and the whole Ogden community.
4. Dani Nay
Nay could be considered the Karl Malone to Power’s John Stockton. She plays outside hitter for the ‘Cats, and she plays that position better than pretty much everyone else in the conference. She, too, was named to the Big Sky All-Conference First-Team last season, and she was only a freshman! She also took home the Outstanding Freshman award for the entire Big Sky. She was the team leader and ranked fourth in the conference in kills last season. Her athleticism and range make her a joy to watch on the volleyball court. With her freshman season and a long offseason of practice under her belt, it’s easy to imagine her improving in her sophomore season.
5. Volleyball Is Easy To Watch
Volleyball isn’t exactly a mainstream sport, nor is it considered one of the “big four” sports in the USA, but it’s easy to watch and to pick up on the rules. Not only is it easy to watch and to catch on to, but it’s exhilarating! The athleticism of these ladies is top notch, many of whom can dunk a basketball, and the pace of play is so fast that you’ll be on the edge of your seat for every point.
A hallmark of Larsen’s 2019 squad, his most successful team during his tenure at Weber State, was defense. Please don’t misunderstand, when the offense is clicking, it’s one to be reckoned with, but the defense won them a lot of matches last season. This team ranked either first or second in the conference in nearly every major defensive statistic last season. It takes a lot more than swinging hard and hoping for the best to win in volleyball, and last season, Larsen’s team proved that it was fundamentally and tactically sound, using its defense as the team’s calling card. With Sam Schiess and Emma Mangum leading the defense, the “Great Wall of Weber” will stand tall this season and pick up where they left off at the end of 2019.
7. Swenson Gym
You know how people feel about Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke? It’s not the largest stadium, but it’s LOUD, and the fans are right on top of you. That’s exactly how Weber State’s Swenson Gym was last season. The team made it a fortress to play in, and the opposition had to fight for every point but never seemed to score many. With COVID-19, the crowds will likely be restricted for at least part of the season, but you’ll want to watch this team this season so that you can study up and be ready to attend home matches in the Swenson, once things return to normal.
We’re in a golden age of Weber State athletics. The entire department is seeing historic amounts of success, and this team is part of what is making this specific time at Weber State so special. This volleyball team has an incredibly good thing going for it and they have earned and deserve your attention and respect. Tune in to the 2020-21 Weber State Wildcat volleyball team and you won’t regret it.