espnW Volleyball Player Of The Week: Wyoming's Allison Waldvogel
A ball that touches the floor is an insult to Allison Waldvogel, a fitting mentality for a libero.
The MVP of last weekend's Rumble in the Rockies tournament, leading Wyoming to a 3-0 start that included an upset of then-No. 14 Ohio State, is the espnW national player of the week.
The senior, also the Mountain West Defensive Player Of The Week, amassed 46 digs in Wyoming's first three games at a clip of 4.18 per set. Fifteen of those came against a Buckeyes team that advanced to its third Sweet 16 in the past five years in 2014. The victory is the Cowgirls' first over a ranked opponent since 2002 (Utah).
"She played really well and extended several rallies," said Cowgirls coach Chad Callihan. "It got Ohio State a little rattled -- the combination of our team's blocking and when they got past the block, Alli was there to make several key plays."
Wyoming defeated South Dakota and Butler en route to the tournament title, also placing Laura Beach and Kayla Slofkiss on the all-tournament team. The Cowgirls needed four sets to beat Ohio State and Butler and swept South Dakota.
The 5-foot-7 Waldvogel transferred to Wyoming the spring of her sophomore year from Division II Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. She made two starts last season, averaging 3.67 digs per set.
"Defense is where I started, and as the years went on, defense has become one of my favorite things to do," said Waldvogel, a native of Joliet, Illinois. "When you're busting your butt to pick up a ball, it's a great feeling. I've embraced it since I was young."
Waldvogel said she fed off the energy of the fourth-largest crowd for Wyoming volleyball in Laramie -- 2,317 inside Arena-Auditorium, a place Cowgirl fans dub the Double A. Generally, the Cowgirls play home games in the more intimate UniWyo Sports Complex.
"It was a crazy environment," Waldvogel said. "Even with the bigger space, the energy from the fans and on the court was awesome."
While defense is Waldvogel's forte, Callihan credits her work on the serve receive and on passing as instrumental in Wyoming's early success.
"She's also become a really good out-of-system setter for us," he said. "If our regular setter has to play the first ball, she's oftentimes stepping in to deliver the second ball and has gotten quite good at that."
Waldvogel said working with the coaching staff during the offseason led to the improvement.
"I had some muscle memory habits that I had to learn how to break," she said. "On service receives, I used to try to dig the ball in a way instead of pulling back on my platform. One thing that helped with that is the emphasis Coach Chad puts on tracking the ball with our eyes."
A year ago, Wyoming, with a 23-8 record, did not earn a berth to the NCAA tournament -- among the reasons Callihan beefed up the schedule to include teams like Ohio State. Mountain West preseason favorite Colorado State (3-0), ranked ninth nationally this week, will be on tap for one of two conference matches on Oct. 13.
Coming up this weekend: the Gonzaga Invitational, with Wyoming set to meet Utah, the host Zags and Montana.
Waldvogel said she is excited for a season of promise that she hopes will culminate in a postseason tournament berth.
"With the first weekend, it's always tough, with nerves and even starting out with a top-ranked team," she said. "It felt really good coming out and taking care of business."