2009 BYU Women's Volleyball Team (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
In the 40th winning season in BYU women’s volleyball history, the Cougars finished the season with an overall record of 15-14 and 1,046 all-time wins. In the 41-year recorded history of the program, the Cougars rank sixth among NCAA Division I teams.
BYU earned a fifth-place Mountain West Conference finish, also with a winning regular-season record of 9-7 in head coach Shay Goulding’s second year. With injuries plaguing the team in the middle of the season, the Cougars were unable to grasp an NCAA Tournament berth for only the fifth time in the Tournament’s history.
The Cougars kicked off the season at the Missouri Tournament in Columbia, Mo., taking on Ole Miss, Texas State and Missouri. The team had a 2-0 start in the tournament before falling to host Missouri in four sets. Senior Kayla Walker and junior Christina Measom earned all-tournament honors, Walker averaging 3.70 kills and 1.9 digs per game while Measom averaged 1.90 kills and 0.90 blocks while hitting .350.
On the road for one more game before beginning the home season, the Cougars traveled to Utah State where they lost a hard fought, five-set match to in-state rival Utah State. At the Smith Spectrum in front of 1,557 USU fans. Despite the loss, Walker posted a then season high 25 kills and nine digs.
Preseason tournaments hosted by BYU have been a tradition since 1977. With the exception of two years (1993 and 1999), the Cougars have hosted at least one tournament each year. In 2009 BYU hosted the Nike Classic with No. 23 Kansas State, Weber State and Cal Poly in attendance. The Cougars started the tournament with a 3-2 win over Cal Poly and a win over Weber State in three until dropping the championship game to No. 23 Kansas state in five sets. Although the team didn’t finish first in the tournament, Walker and sophomore Christie Carpenter were named to the all-tournament team.
With one more preseason tournament, the Cougars traveled to Nebraska for the Ameritas Players Challenge to take on three of the best teams in the country. Starting out against No. 8 UCLA, the Cougars lost in four. Against No. 5 Nebraska in front of the largest crowd the Cougars faced all season (4,124), BYU hushed the crowd by winning set one, 25-18. The Huskers came back to win the match in the next three sets. The next day of the tournament brought Virginia, with BYU also losing to the Cavaliers 1-3.
Mountain West Conference play began for the Cougars hosting San Diego State and Air Force, posting back-to-back wins. In the 3-2 win over SDSU, Walker had a career night with 32 kills at .500 hitting. She also added 12 digs for her third double-double of the season. The 32 kills marked the third highest total in MWC history.
The Cougars next traveled to in-state rival Utah where head coach Beth Launiere looked for her 300th win. After reaching match point in set four, the Cougars battled hard but fell in sets four and five. Despite the loss, Walker came out with 19 kills on the night and 11 digs, her fourth double-double of the season. Camilla Phillips had a then career-high eight kills while Kiana Rogers posted 41 assists. Morgan Lloyd Sorensen held up the back row with 24 digs, tying her career high.
Coming back home to Provo to finish up September, BYU hosted North Dakota State, sweeping the Bison in three sets to bring the BYU record to 7-7 overall. With big comebacks in two of the sets, the Cougars came out with a win thanks to Walker’s fifth double-double of the season with 16 kills and 13 digs. Setter Rogers also had a double-double, racking up 38 assists and a season-high 16 digs.
Two more MWC wins gave the Cougars a winning record again. BYU was first on the road against UNLV where they swept the Rebels. The next week the Cougars came back home to take on New Mexico and TCU. BYU beat UNM in three, followed by a tough 0-3 home loss to TCU to bring the Cougar record to 9-8 overall and 4-2 in the MWC.
Next traveling to Colorado State and Wyoming to finish the first half of MWC play, the Cougars split road wins. CSU was up first, then boasting a perfect 6-0 MWC record for first place in the conference. BYU battled, but the Ram defense was too much for the Cougar squad. Busing up to Laramie, Wyo., the Cougars crept past the Cowgirls in five with three spikers in double digits. Christie Carpenter led the way with a career-high 21 kills, Christina Measom had 13 while Nicole Warner added a career-high 12. On the defensive side of the ball Morgan Lloyd Sorensen led the team with 18 digs, accompanied by Melissa Lake Wright with 12 and Carpenter, Chelsea Goodsell and Kiana Rogers all tallying eight digs each.
Coming back to the Smith Fieldhouse, the Cougars took on in-state rival Utah only to fall again in five in front of a season-high 2,249 fans in attendance. With only five miles separating Utah Valley University and BYU, the Wolverines came to campus looking for a win, but only scaring the Cougars by coming out with the third set. BYU again established a winning record with the victory at 11-10 overall and 5-4 in the MWC.
BYU finished November with a 3-1 win against UNLV at home to then be defeated on the road in back-to-back matches against TCU and New Mexico to bring the Cougars down to fifth in the MWC rankings. In the last two home matches of the season the Cougars beat Wyoming in three and then fell to Colorado State in five, putting up a good fight.
Ending the season with three road games the Cougars came out 2-1 with wins over Air Force and SDSU and a loss to No. 21 Saint Mary’s College. The Cougars came out with a winning record both overall and in the MWC (15-14, 9-7).
Demonstrating the strength and competitiveness of the MWC, BYU finished first in the league and 19th in the country in blocking with 2.66 blocks per set. The Cougars were also fourth in service aces (1.15 per set), second in opponent hitting percentage (.164), fifth in hitting percentage (.201) and sixth in digs (13.42 per set).
While BYU’s 14 losses were uncharacteristic, four of those defeats came to ranked teams and five came to teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament. On the other side of the coin, the Cougars were dominant in victory, recording nine of their 15 wins in just three sets.
The Smith Fieldhouse once again proved magical as the Cougars averaged of 1,198 fans per match, the 34th-best home attendance mark in the nation. BYU was 9-4 at home, 9-7 in conference play, 4-8 on the road and 2-2 in neutral court contests.
Several Cougars made an impact on the court in 2009 as both newcomers and returners made their presence known.
Junior defensive specialist Melissa Lake Wright finished 10th in the MWC for tallying 2.88 digs per set. She chalked up double-digit digs in 15 matches, including one with 20.
Freshman middle blocker Nicole Warner boasted the best hitting percentage for the Cougars, ranking third in the MWC averaging .346. She also finished eighth in blocks in the MWC with 1.10 per set and 42nd in the nation for her overall 1.22 blocks per set.
Junior middle blocker Christina Measom ranked second in MWC play for blocks at 1.37 per game. She also played in all 110 sets for the Cougars, recording nine matches with double-digit kills.
Junior setter Kiana Rogers made the most of her second year as the full-time setter with a team-best nine double-doubles. She averaged 9.50 assists per set overall and ranked fifth in MWC play with 9.79 assists per set. Rogers also tallied 2.13 digs per set to rank third on the team.
The Cougars also said goodbye to two talented seniors at the conclusion of the season, rightside hitter Kayla Walker and libero Morgan Lloyd Sorensen.
Senior Kayla Walker began her second and final year as a Cougar on the rightside, where she had been since midway through the 2008 season. The 6-foot-5 All-MWC honoree ranked second overall among the league leaders and second in MWC play in kills per set at 3.68 and 3.70, respectively. She finished the season with six double-doubles and had at least 20 kills in a match three times among 20 matches with double-digit kills. Her climax of the season came against SDSU on Sept. 17 when she recorded 32 kills and only three errors on .500 hitting, which was the third-highest total in MWC history.
Senior Morgan Lloyd Sorensen started in the libero position for most of the year, finishing seventh in the MWC with 3.50 digs per set. She tallied double-digit digs in 19 matches, including five over 20. On Sept. 12 against Virginia she tallied 21 digs in four sets, which ranks fourth in the BYU record book.