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Women’s soccer team heads to 2nd round

Cougars will face either UNLV or Wyoming today

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PROVO — After watching the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament from the stands, the BYU women's soccer team will enter the fray in today's second-round action in Salt Lake City.

The Cougars (12-2-3, 3-1-2 MWC) claimed the second seed and a first-round bye last week with a 2-0 win over UNLV. Tournament host Utah (14-4-0, 7-0-0 MWC) has the first seed and the other first-round bye.

Depending on the outcome of Wednesday evening's first-round game, BYU will face either Wyoming or UNLV in the second round. The Cougars handily dispatched both teams in home games earlier this year, defeating the Cowgirls 3-0 in a match that was even more lopsided than the score indicated, then downing the Rebels last week.

BYU, however, is preparing for a tough match rematch against either team.

"Our conference is very strong," said head coach Jennifer Rockwood. "Every year, it's more and more solid. It doesn't matter who we play, we know it will definitely be a tough battle no matter who we face. Anyone is capable of beating anyone on any given day."

Rockwood said the key to the team's performance in the tournament is controlling the ball and finishing the scoring opportunities it creates.

"We feel like we've played pretty well the last three out of four games, and we want to just continue what we've been doing, and that's trying to attack with possession, having our forwards feel confident going at defenders," she said. "That's something that we've really tried to spend a lot of time on in the last month; is putting pressure on teams' defenses, again to keep the ball out of our end as much as we can."

Today's match will be played at 4:30 p.m., and will be broadcast on the mtn. Saturday's championship match will be played at noon and will be nationally broadcast on CSTV.

MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: The men's volleyball team wrapped up its six-game preseason schedule last weekend with back-to-back victories over conference rival Pepperdine to finish at 4-2.

The Cougars posted a 2-2 record at the Canada-America Challenge in Edmonton two weeks ago, then followed up with a pair of four-game wins over Pepperdine last Thursday and Friday.

Ivan Perez and Yosleyder Cala led the Cougars in the Pepperdine victories, as Perez led the team with 18 kills on Thursday and Cala led with 23 kills on Friday.

The team now has two months to prepare for the regular season, which begins Jan. 5 and 6 with home matches against Trinity Western.

POLL WATCH: Coming off a 2-0 win over UNLV in the regular season finale, the women's soccer team moved up three spots to No. 18 in this week's Soccerbuzz.com poll. The Cougars made a similar move in the NSCAA/adidas poll, jumping four spots to No. 19.

The women's volleyball team dropped one spot to No. 18 in this week's CSTV/AVCA Coaches' Poll, after being swept by the University of Utah for its third loss of the season.

The BYU men's cross country team, which claimed its third straight conference title last week, moved up to No. 14, two weeks after sliding to No. 21.

The women's cross country team, which won its 18th straight conference title, slid one spot to No. 12, just one point behind Michigan State.

E-mail: jtwitchell@desnews.com