Falling out of the Big Sky

After losing 3–2 to Montana State University, Weber State University’s volleyball team is out of the Big Sky Conference tournament.

“I thought we put forth a really good effort,” WSU head coach Jeremiah Larsen said to Weber State Athletics. “The outcome of that match is a result of us not attacking adversity and challenges in the season in the right way. A lot of times, we wanted to sidestep adversity and challenges, but reap the reward of the success and you can’t do that.”

Coming off a 13–3 in-conference record last year, the Wildcats finished this season 11–5 in the Big Sky. Weber State started in-conference play against Portland State University this season. After being swept by the Vikings, the Wildcats were able to find their footing again and went on a five-game winning streak following the defeat.

The Wildcats finished the regular season with the third best record in the conference, only behind the University of Northern Colorado and Portland State. Weber State was a dominant force on defense this season as they led in digs and had the lowest average opponent hitting percentage.

Libero Makayla Sorensen, who was voted to the Big Sky All-Conference second team, averaged just over four digs a set.

Outside of digs and opponent hitting percentage, the Wildcats had a feared line at the net. Weber State middle blockers Saane Katoa, Brielle Rueckert and Baylee Bodily along with all-conference second team opposite Emma Mangum all finished top ten in the conference for blocks.

Coming off a conference MVP season in 2021, Wildcat outside hitter Dani Richins was selected to her fourth all-conference first team this season. Richins finished the season with 330 kills and 34 service aces, leading Weber State in scoring with an average of 3.79 points per game.

Last season, the Wildcats lost three all-conference talents in outside hitter Rylin Adams, setter Ashlyn Power and middle blocker Sam Schiess. Although Weber State will lose opposite Riley Weinert and Mangum, a majority of the players are still early in their careers.

“We have a lot of young kids and we’re tied for second. We feel good about that,” Larsen said to Weber State Athletics. “This is a good jumping-off point and how we react going into the spring and the preparation going into next season will determine if we’ve learned from this. I’m hoping we have some form of resolve to grow, or else there is no bright side. We have all the pieces, but not the attitude.”

Although the Wildcats won’t be competing for a Big Sky Conference title, they will play in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. Weber State will face Drake University on Dec. 4 at noon.