The Broncs (10-18), who have had the best record since the 2007 season, are gearing up for the Great West Conference Tournament Friday and Saturday in Utah.
Head Coach Brian Yale used these last few home practices to fine-tune a few kinks within the team. He believes their side out game hasn’t been as effective as it was earlier in the season.
“We can take care of that first ball on our side and then slow down the other teams on their first ball swings,” Yale said. “We’re willing to rally, we’re capable of rallying, and that’ll keep us in a few more points here and there. It’s a side out game on both sides.”
First, the Broncs will face the GWC No. 2 Utah Valley University on Friday. According to Yale, the Wolverines (16-8, 7-1 GWC) are a big, tall, strong team that like to hit and block.
“If we can get the ball past the block more consistently then we’re going to keep ourselves in the match and have a great opportunity to win,” Yale said. “I think we match up pretty well, we just didn’t play as well as we could the last time we were out there, so we get another shot at that, which is good.”
The first time these two opponents faced off, it was taken to five. Backed up by 406 fans in the bleachers, the Broncs took the first two sets, but ultimately dropped the match 3-2. According to team captain Juri Franzen, the team wants revenge for that night, because they came so close to winning.
“When we play a good team we play really good also. It helps us out and we have just got to keep working hard at practice- keep having the energy we’ve been having this week because we’ve been doing really well,” Franzen said. “If we are all in, on the same page and leave everything on the court, we should come out with the win for sure.”
Although the Broncs are entering the tourney following a loss, libero Franzen is leading the team with recently earned honors and accolades.
The senior broke into the top 10 in career digs (948) and leads the 20+ digs matches with 16. Franzen was also named GWC Defensive Player of the week, Tuesday morning due to her 71 digs in the past three games.
“It was my second time making it so, you know, it’s a good way to end regular conference play you know,” Franzen said. “It keeps me motivated to kick ass.”
Coach Yale believes, had Franzen been here four years instead of two, she could have accomplished even more and build on her record. He understands how vital Franzen has been to the program and is working on finding her replacement.
“She’s done a great job for us in the two years that she’s had, and I’m looking forward to a great weekend for her,” Yale said. “All those individual things are great, but I know she’d love to hang a banner in the gym and get the championship ring and all that, so that’s our goal.”