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Volleyball takes Big Sky Championship

Weber State Athletics Volleyball
Wildcats defeat Sacramento State in dominating five-set fashion.

After a dominating season, Weber State University’s women’s volleyball team won the Big Sky Championship on Nov. 24, ending the season with a record of 21–9, 11–5.

The University of Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, hosted this year’s tournament from Nov. 22-24.

“Going to the tournament is always memorable, as is competing for a championship,” Dani Richins, outside hitter, said. “It was different in that it was a little more bittersweet, being my senior season. Knowing it was my last tournament, I just tried to soak it all in and enjoy every moment.”

This 2023 season, Richins had an outstanding performance. Her stats this year: 342 kills, 3.25 kills/set, 40 service aces and 295 digs. After six years of playing at Weber, she is one of the top players ever to play for the school. Richins received her fifth selection to the All-Conference First Team. She is the school’s all-time leader in aces, and ranks top five in kills and digs.

The schools competing in the championships were Weber State, Portland State University, Sacramento State University, Idaho State University, Montana State University, University of Montana, Eastern Washington University and Northern Colorado University.

On Nov. 22, Weber State’s first match was against Portland State. Both teams went back and forth throughout the game, but the Wildcats ultimately ended up on top with a score of 3–0 (25–21, 31–29, 25–18). This win placed them in the semifinals.

The next day, Weber State went up against Sacramento State, winning 3–2 (25–12, 23–25, 22–25, 25–23, 15–7). The Wildcats started out strong with the first set, but the Hornets were able to find their place and win the next two sets. The fourth set was the most intense, but the Wildcats were able to take a 1-point lead and hold a strong defense to win. The fifth set was controlled by the Wildcats, who came out with the victory and moved on to the championship match.

The championship match took place on Nov. 24, with the Wildcats going up against the Montana State Bobcats. To start the match, the Wildcats were trailing the Bobcats, who ended up winning the first set. The second set kept everyone on edge as the Wildcats were down five points and made a comeback to tie (24–24) and take the set victory.

Coming into set three, both teams were looking to take the lead. Utilizing offensive and defensive strategies, the Wildcats were just 1 point behind, but the Bobcats had a 5-point surge, allowing them to come up on top of the set. The fourth set was back-and-forth, but the Bobcats had attack errors, and the Wildcats held strong to earn another win. The final set started with an early 5–0 lead for the Bobcats, but the Wildcats fought their way back as a team, ultimately succeeding and winning the championship.

“It was a grind,” Richins said. “They are a really good team that really makes you earn every point. It was a crazy game, lots of ups and downs, but it was so fun to pull out the win in that fifth set. I think we learned how gritty and resilient we can be. I love competing. I love playing with my best friends and making memories with them that will last forever.”

This win gave Weber State a spot in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats will face the No. 4-seeded Brigham Young University Cougars on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. The match will be at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.

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Jacoba Jones, Sports reporter

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