Up to Speed: Our weekly recap of Bronco Sports (Feb. 21-27)

Boise State beach volleyball at the Canyon Classic, 2022
Photo courtesy of Boise State Athletics

Softball loses first game of Gaucho Classic (Feb. 25)

By Desmond Ordoñez

Boise State softball’s three errors cost them in the end as they lost to Idaho State 4-3 on Friday, Feb. 25 in the Gaucho Classic. 

The Bengals (6-7) scored once in the second inning and three times in the fourth inning alone off senior pitcher Hannah Bailey. Two of the four runs were unearned.  

In the backside of the fourth inning, sophomore outfielder Alycia Flores led off with a double followed by taking a wild pitch to set up a score on a two-out double by senior utility player Kelsey Lalor.

The Broncos closed within 4-3 in the sixth inning when sophomore outfielder Jordyn Hutchins opened the inning with a powerful home run. Idaho State also gave up three errors and allowed another run by Boise State. 

Boise State threatened to tie or win the game in its very last at-bat. Senior infielder Eliyah Flores was hit by a pitch and took second base on a single by junior infielder Autumn Bennett. Sophomore outfielder Kelsey Hall moved both runners up with a sacrifice and Idaho State intentionally walked Hutchins. 

Gymnastics takes home season-high bars score but falls to No. 17 Southern Utah (Feb. 25)

By Jenna Vitamanti

Boise State gymnastics left Cedar City, Utah, with a season-high score on bars and a share of two individual titles on Feb. 25. Overall, however, the Broncos fell to the No. 17 Southern Utah University Thunderbirds with a final score of 196.675-196.225.

This meet was the third meet for Boise State in an eight-day period, all on the road.

The meet against the Thunderbirds opened with bars, resulting in a tie for the fourth-highest score in program history with a 49.500. Sophomore Emily Lopez and fifth-year Emily Muhlenhaupt each earned a 9.950. For Muhlenhaupt, this marked the 13th score of 9.950 or better in her career, and for Lopez, this score set a new career high. Senior Alexis Stokes scored a 9.900, making this the second meet the three have all scored a 9.900 or higher. 

“The team started off strong with a season high on bars and a multitude of stuck landings,” said head coach Tina Bird. “The Emily duo both securing 9.950 was so much fun.”

Individual titles were claimed by Lopez and Mulenhaupt on bars, which was Lopez’s second of her career. The title for Muhlenhaupt marks the 20th of her career at Boise State, tying for the program record in career victories on bars with Lindsay Ward.

The second rotation was led by sophomore Courtney Blackson and Lopez, each with a score of 9.875. This score tied a career high for Lopez, and earned her and Blackson their second individual titles for the event in their careers. Freshman Alyssa Vulaj scored a 9.850 as the reigning Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference (MRGC) Vault Specialist of the Week, helping the Broncos earn a season-high score of 49.225. 

For the third rotation of the meet, the Broncos competed on floor with freshman Elaina McGovern leading the team with a 9.875. Blackson earned a score of 9.850 to push the event’s final score to 48.925.

On beam, senior Alexis Stokes and sophomore Talia Little each scored a 9.850 to end the night with a score of 48.525 in the final rotation. 

The Broncos will compete in a quad meet hosted by the University of Illinois, where they will face Central Michigan University, Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois on March 4.

Beach volleyball battles in the desert to open the season 1-2 (Feb. 25-26)

By Mason Becker and Nate Lunak

Boise State beach volleyball opened the 2022 campaign going 1-2 Friday afternoon (Feb. 25) at the Canyon Classic in Phoenix, Arizona. The Broncos fell early to No. 9 Grand Canyon University in a 5-0 shutout but quickly bounced back, defeating Arizona State University 3-2, before losing their final match 4-1 versus No. 12 University of Arizona.

Boise State beach volleyball at the Canyon Classic, 2022
[Photo of the Boise State beach volleyball team at the Canyon Classic in Phoenix, Arizona.]
Photo courtesy of Boise State Athletics

Sophomore Kaylee Mejia and freshman Sharli O’Neil were a near unstoppable duo, who won in straight sets versus both Arizona and Arizona State to finish 2-1 on the day.

The Broncos would get an early 2-0 lead against Arizona State behind sophomore Sierra Land and sophomore Rori Chartier who won in two sets, 22-20, 21-18, to claim the first team point. They were followed by Mehia and O’Neil with a win of 21-18, 21-16.

Arizona State won the next two matches, but the Broncos delivered the final blow, with senior Joey Benson and freshman Emilia Guerra-Acuna taking the final game 23-21 and 26-24.  

In the third match, the Broncos went neck and neck with the Wildcats. Boise State took an early lead as Mejia and O’Neil won in a straight-set 21-16, 21-19.

Arizona would then take a 2-1 lead with close wins at No. 2 and No. 3 pairs. Chartier and Land rallied from a set down to take the second set 21-19, forcing the match to a decisive third set before they fell 21-17, 19-21, 15-12.

The Broncos battled the Wildcats in the final two matches but came up short. Boise State’s duo of fifth-year Erin Martin and senior Yasmin Tan battled through three sets before getting edged out in the fifth, 21-19, 16-21, 15-13. It was their second three-set defeat of the day. 

The final match was decided by a combined five points as Benson and Guerra-Acuna fell 21-19, 21-18 on court five.

The Broncos will be back battling in Arizona, as their next game comes against Arizona Christian on March 1.

Softball dominates offensively in Santa Barbara (Feb. 26)

By Jenna Vitamanti

Boise State softball scored 35 runs and went 4-1 at the Gaucho Classic hosted by the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Feb. 25-27. 

Boise State dominated UCSB 20-7 and Providence College 15-1 in a mercy-rule victory in a five-inning game on Saturday, Feb. 26.

“Our offense did a great job of being patient enough to take walks and aggressive enough to take advantage of pitches to hit,” said Boise State head coach Justin Shults. “I am proud of the way we responded after a [Friday] loss.”

Against UCSB, the Broncos scored five runs in the third and fifth innings and six runs in the seventh. 

Fifth-year infielder Alison Seng went 3-for-4, hitting a home run and six RBIs. Sophomore outfielder Jordyn Hutchins hit a double and scored five runs, and redshirt sophomore outfielder Alycia Flores hit three doubles and scored two runs. 

In the win against Providence, Seng hit two home runs and added four RBIs. Hutchins also scored a home run and three RBIs. Sophomore infielder/catcher Hailey Hays hit a 

triple and brought in three RBIs. 

Five runs were scored in the third inning and nine in the fourth. Sophomore pitcher Taylor Caudill had no runners in four innings at the mound.

Women’s tennis falls in season opener (Feb. 26)

By Ryan Marshall

Boise State women’s tennis took on No. 28 University of Washington (UW) to start the season.

The season opener against the Huskies was the first time the Boise State women’s tennis team was in action after a month of postponements. The Broncos lost 7-0 in the opener to start the season off 0-1. 

The match started by UW by winning the doubles points to go 2-0. The doubles squad of sophomore Shauna Heffernan and junior Holly Stewart were leading 5-4 until that match was seized by the Huskies.

In singles matches, sophomore Nicole Discenza and junior Ana Conde Vendrell led the charge for the Broncos. However, Discenza fell 6-3 and 6-2. Venrell fell 6-2 in both matches. 

Boise State will take on Idaho State University and Portland State University on March 4 and March 5 in Boise. 

Men’s basketball picks up their 7th conference road win at UNLV (Feb. 26)

By Matthew Valento

With huge performances from redshirt senior Marcus Shaver, Jr. and fifth-year forward Abu Kigab, the Broncos took care of business on the road, beating the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) 86-76 on Saturday, Feb. 26.

Shaver chipped in a game-high 27 points and Kigab added 24, making this the third time the Broncos have had multiple players with 20-plus points this season. These players also made history, with Kigab reaching 1,000 career points and Shaver, Jr. with 1,500 career points.

Boise State came out of the gates firing, making six of their first seven attempts from the floor including 3-for-3 from downtown. Kigab scored eight of the Broncos’ first 12 points as Boise State built a first-half lead as big as 13 points with another 12 minutes to play in the period.

The Rebels stormed back in the second half, outscoring the Broncos 14-6 to take their first lead of 55-53, with 15:33 remaining in the game. Haymakers were traded by both teams throughout the next three minutes before Boise State would go on a 9-2 run and go up 69-64 with 8:40 remaining. 

Shaver, Jr. went on to score eight of the final 14 points for the Broncos, to hold off UNLV and pick up a huge conference road game victory.

Freshman forward Tyson Degenhart was the third Bronco in double figures, scoring 10 points with three rebounds. Redshirt senior guard Emmanuel Akot chimed in with nine points, six rebounds and three assists in his return to the starting lineup after missing four games and coming off the bench in the last two.

Boise State has now won 20 of its last 22 games and currently holds a four-game winning streak. This is the Bronco’s seventh road win in conference play, setting a program record. In the Mountain West, there are 10 instances of a team winning at least seven road conference games, and eight of the 10 would go on to win the conference championship. The Broncos have also tied a school record of 14 wins in conference play as well.

The Broncos now have a 1.5 game lead over Wyoming for first place in the Mountain West, which means they can clinch at least a share of the 2021-2022 regular-season title with a win over Nevada on Tuesday, March 1 at ExtraMile Arena. 

Boise State softball sets program record for wins in February (Feb. 27)

By Desmond Ordoñez

Boise State softball took two more wins Sunday, Feb. 27 on the final day of the Gaucho Classic. 

The Broncos (13-2) bounced Providence College (5-5) 6-0 in a shortened six-inning game due to travel conflicts within the Providence program. 

Boise State then beat the classic host the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) 6-3 to set the program record for wins in the month of February.

This years’ start resembles the 2019 Broncos season that saw the team open the year 18-2. They would eventually punch their ticket to an at large-big to the NCAA postseason. 

“Our freshmen were big for us today,” said Boise State head coach Justin Shults. “[Freshman outfielder] Mykenzie Hanna had a couple of big swings and [freshman utility player] Megan Lake did a great job on the bases with her softball IQ that led to an insurance run for us against UCSB.”

Fifth-year pitcher Hannah Bailey (5-1) fired a one-hit shutout against Providence while striking out seven. Five Broncos collected an RBI, including sophomore utility player Abby Bumbcrot’s two-run single in the fourth inning that gave Bailey all the support she needed. 

Against the Gauchos, Bailey smashed a pair of home runs, including a timely grand-slam that would drive in five of the team’s six runs. 

Bailey relieved sophomore pitcher Taylor Caudill on the mound and recorded her second win of the day while racking up the final 10 outs. 

Next, the Broncos travel to Tucson, Arizona, for the Wildcat Invitational from March 4-6.

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