(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
AUSTIN, Texas – After being down two sets and fighting back to force a fifth, No. 13 seed BYU women’s volleyball fell 3-2 (25-23, 25-14, 24-26, 22-25, 16-14) to No. 4 seed Texas in the NCAA Regional Semifinals in Austin Friday afternoon.
"Congratulations to the University of Texas on advancing in the tournament," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "They played a great match. I don't think that I could be any more proud of the way the team played. I thought, except for a lapse in the second set, it was phenomenal volleyball. I'm very proud of the team and the courage and fight that they showed in the match tonight. "
In the decisive fifth set, BYU (29-4, 16-2 West Coast Conference) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead with two aces from Mary Lake. An off-speed kill by Veronica Jones-Perry made it a 10-5 advantage over Texas (25-4, 14-2 Big 12). The Longhorns went on a 7-1 run to tie the game 12-12. Kills from Whitney Young Howard and Amy Boswell made it match point at 14-12, but Texas scored four straight to win the set 16-14 and the match.
Texas out hit BYU .323 to .251 along with earning four more total blocks (14) than the Cougars (10). Both teams had at least three players with double-digit digs and at least four with more than 10 kills.
BYU had five players with double-digit kills, led by McKenna Miller’s 16 kills. Howard had 15 kills on a .500 clip, while Boswell notched 14 kills, seven digs and eight blocks. Lacy Haddock had a double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs. Pacing the offense, Lyndie Haddock had 48 assists and 20 digs. Freshman libero Lake tallied 30 digs and two aces in the match.
The two teams were close the whole first set with four lead changes and 14 ties. BYU’s two senior middle blockers got it started for the road team in the first set, with Boswell and Howard earning two kills each for the Cougars’ first four points. Miller and Howard’s block capped off two-straight points to go up 12-11. After trading points, Miller powered the ball through the block to get BYU’s first three-point lead, 20-17. However, the Longhorns scored three unanswered to even the score at 20 apiece. The Cougars struggled down the stretch, giving up four-straight to allow the Longhorns to win the first set 25-23.
The second set was all Texas. An early 8-3 Longhorns lead forced the Cougars to take a timeout. Miller came out of the break with a kill, but then Texas scored three more. Behind two kills from Veronica Jones-Perry, BYU scored three-straight to close in on the lead, 11-7. The Longhorns never allowed the Cougars to score more than one at a time to close out the set. Howard scored two kills down the stretch, but Texas closed it out with a 25-14 win.
BYU brought back the fight in the third set. Lacy Haddock hammered home a kill after a long rally to spark a 3-0 run to take a 5-3 lead. The Longhorns tied the game at 14-all, but Haddock found the deep corner on her attack to keep the lead at 15-14. BYU allowed Texas to score five unanswered points, taking the 21-18 lead. Behind a kill and a block from Howard, the Cougars fought off a match point with three-straight points to take the 25-24 lead, capped off with an ace from Haddock. BYU took the third set 26-24 after a Texas error.
Riding the momentum from the third-set victory, the Cougars jumped out to an early lead in the fourth. BYU went up 5-3 after Haddock killed the ball on a rally that lasted just over one minute. Texas then went on a 3-0 run to tie it at 6-6 until Boswell killed the ball to take back the lead. The teams had been trading points for a while when BYU scored four-straight points behind two kills from Jones-Perry to push the lead to 18-12. Despite the big lead, the Longhorns fought back with a 4-1 run to get within two, 23-21, forcing a timeout from the Cougars. Boswell slammed the ball from the middle to take the fourth set 25-22, forcing a decisive fifth set.
Despite a big lead for BYU in the fifth set, Texas came from behind to win 16-14, taking the match 3-2 to advance to the NCAA Regional Finals.