(Photo by BYU Photo/Marcos Escalona)
LOS ANGELES – Jennifer Hamson led No. 12 BYU women's volleyball to a four-set (30-28, 25-12, 23-25, 25-21) victory over Loyola Marymount Tuesday night at Gersten Pavilion to close out the regular season.
"The girls played a balanced, well-rounded match," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Hats off to these kids for an outstanding conference season. We are excited to continue playing and we'll look to keep improving."
Hamson led the Cougars with 25 kills off a .550 clip while tying a career-high 11 blocks. Camry Godfrey Willardson directed the squad, tying a season-high 45 assists while Ciara Parker added a team-high 16 digs. Whitney Young contributed double-digit blocks, adding 14 for the team. Young's blocks tie for fifth-most all-time in the BYU rally-scoring era. Alexa Gray also contributed double-digit kills with 17.
As a team, the Cougars finished with 22.0 blocks, tied for sixth-most all-time in the BYU rally-scoring era.
Loyola Marymount (23-7, 11-7 West Coast Conference) got off to an 8-2 advantage against BYU (25-4, 16-2 WCC) in the first set after a few Cougar errors. After a timeout, BYU went on a 6-2 run - capped off by a Tambre Nobles kill - to make the score 10-8, Lions. A Hamson kill brought the Cougars within one at 17-16 before a Gray and Amy Boswell block tied the score at 17 apiece. BYU took its first lead of the set at 23-22 after an attack error by Loyola Marymount's Caitlin DeWitt. Hamson brought up set point at 24-23 with a kill, but the Lions battled back to bring extra points to the set. The Cougars eventually won 30-28 following consecutive blocks by Young.
BYU began the second set on an 8-2 run thanks in part to a trio of kills from Hamson and four blocks from Young. Loyola Marymount quickly followed with a 7-2 run of its own to bring it within a point at 10-9, forcing Olmstead to take a timeout. A pair of Nobles aces after the break then helped the Cougars extend their lead back to six at 15-9. The Lions had trouble finding an answer for Gray as she helped BYU go on a 9-2 run to bring up set point before a Hamson kill closed out the set 25-12.
Loyola Marymount jumped out to a 3-1 lead to begin the third set. Boswell then rattled off a pair of service aces to tie the score back up at 3-3. A Boswell and Willardson block helped even the score again at 10 apiece before another Gray kill gave the Cougars their first lead of the set at 11-10. The Lions then took a timeout after a Young kill gave BYU a 15-13 edge. The Cougars stayed ahead at 20-16 until four-consecutive points brought Loyola Marymount back in the set at 20-20. With the score tied at 23, the Lions scored a pair of quick points to give them the close 25-23 set three victory.
BYU went up 3-1 to start the fourth set, but Loyola Marymount followed with a 3-1 rally of its own to tie the score at 4-4. The score was then tied at every point from there until a Gray block put the Cougars up by two at 16-14. Another Gray kill followed to extend BYU's lead to three at 19-16. The Lions then rallied back to tie the score at 20-20, forcing a Cougar timeout. Four-straight points followed to bring up set point and another Hamson kill ended the set and match 25-21.
The Cougars next await the 2014 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Selection Show this Sunday at 6:30 MST on ESPNU. BYU receives the automatic bid for winning the West Coast Conference outright. The Cougars look to extend a postseason winning streak after reaching the regional semifinals in each of the last two seasons.