by Mike Miller
Welcome to Cougar Corner, a weekly article every Monday that updates you on all of the sports happening at BYU. The week of August 30 – September 5 was as exciting off the fields and courts for BYU Athletics as it was on. Incredibly, this upcoming week has the potential to be even better.
BYU Women’s Volleyball hosted the BYU Invitational this weekend at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo. Participating teams that joined the Cougars in a round-robin style format were Michigan State, Dixie State, and Weber State. As the number 13 ranked team in the country entering the week, BYU was the heavy favorites to win the invitational, which they did by going 3-0. The victories improve their season record to 6-0 and a hope of a higher national ranking this week.
While they went undefeated, BYU had to work for their first victory when they took on Weber State Thursday night. The Cougars went the distance trading all five sets back and forth with the Wildcats. Ultimately, a 3-2 victory was earned with the set breakdown as follows: 25-23, 23-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-4. Every set was a tense affair, but the Cougars showed their offensive powers in the fifth set, finally running away from Weber.
The last two games of the invitational were a pair of 3-0 sweeps. On Friday, the Cougars dismantled Dixie State 25-8, 25-16, 25-20. The team continued their dominance with a 25-14, 25-21, 25-20 handling of Michigan State. The comfortable victories are emblematic of the rest of the season thus far for the women’s team, as a series of powerful performances leaves the team undefeated.
Next Up: BYU travels to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the Panther Challenge hosted by the University of Pittsburgh. The Cougars have a doubleheader on Friday when they face Bowling Green at 10:00 a.m. MDT, followed by Pittsburgh at 5:00 p.m. MDT. On Saturday, the team finishes off the invitational against High Point University at 2:00 p.m. MDT. The game to keep an eye on is the game against Pittsburgh, who entered last week as the number seven team in the country. A BYU victory would be a great way to move up the national rankings.
The women’s soccer team entered the week ranked 14th nationally, with their only loss coming on the road to number 11 Auburn. The Cougars split their two games this week, bringing them to 4-2 on the season. On Monday, BYU lost 2-0 at Arkansas in a game where the Cougars recorded 14 shots but failed to find the back of the net.
On Thursday, the team was back home at the comforts of South Field, where they rode their home field advantage to a 7-0 drubbing of Marquette. The score reflects the total team effort put in by the Cougars. The defense held strong to earn the shutout, and seven different players scored for BYU. Sharing the offensive capabilities in such a way reflects the team’s abilities to score from a variety of options.
Next Up: The women’s soccer team gets rivalry week underway early when they travel to Salt Lake City this Thursday to face Utah at 7:00 p.m. MDT. On Saturday, BYU welcomes Missouri to South Field at 6:00 p.m. MDT.
Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
The defending women’s national champions open their season this Saturday, September 11, at 9:00 a.m. MDT. The home meet will be hosted at Timpanogos Golf Course, and will be an intra-squad competition as the men’s team will be participating as well. The men have last year’s individual national champion in Conner Mantz prepared to defend his title during his senior season.
The 2021 season began well for BYU with a 24-16 win over Arizona in Las Vegas. The game was also a showcase of Cougar Nation’s ability to show up for games outside of Provo, with a healthy majority of the fans at Allegiant Stadium rocking royal blue. A full recap of the game is available on our Hive Sports BYU section. The only downside of the season-opening win was the slew of injuries, as Keenan Ellis, Gunner Romney, and the Nacua brothers are among those with uncertain statuses heading into this week.
The injury to Ellis was especially concerning as he had to be carted off the field with a head/neck injury that was treated at a local trauma center. All scans and signs point to him being ok, which is welcome news for a team that was clearly rattled long after he went down. At this point, everyone will be happy if he can resume normal activities, regardless of what his football season looks like going forward.
Next Up: The Holy War comes to town as BYU hosts Utah at 8:15 p.m. MDT on ESPN from Lavell Edwards Stadium on Saturday night.
Big 12 News
Even bigger than the athletic performances for the Cougars this week was news surrounding conference realignment. Multiple sources, including Sports Illustrated (Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde), ESPN (Heather Dinich and Adam Rittenberg), and The Athletic (Sam Khan Jr., Max Olson, Justin Williams, and Bruce Feldman) all confirm BYU is expected to join the Big 12. A formal application could be submitted and approved as early as this week. Membership will likely begin in 2023 with all BYU sports included.
Thank you for reading our first edition of the Cougar Corner. If a sport you follow was missed, please feel free to tweet at the author (@MillerMike123) or @TheHiveSports. We are also happy to take any other requests you have for specific BYU content going forward. Go Cougars!
Featured image courtesy Jaren Wilkey/ BYU Photo