(Photo by Bella Torgerson/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – Alexa Gray recorded 17 kills to lead the BYU women’s volleyball team to a sweep (25-16, 25-18, 25-20) over UC Irvine on Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“A win is a win and we’re excited about that,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I thought UC Irvine did a nice job of adjusting in sets one and two when we had nice leads. Our ball control wasn’t where it should have been and we didn’t get our middles as involved as I would have liked to. But overall, I thought we played a good match.”
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The Cougars never trailed throughout the whole match and improved to 6-3 on the season. Tambre Haddock recorded her sixth double-double of the season, notching 11 kills and 12 digs. The Anteaters (5-2) were led by Aly Squires and Cassidy Pickrell who both recorded nine kills in the match.
BYU opened the first set hitting on all cylinders, forcing UC Irvine into three errors and getting kills from Gray and Haddock for an early 7-1 lead. The Cougars continued to push the pace and increased their lead to 17-6 to force the Anteaters to call their second timeout of the set. Following the timeout, UC Irvine responded with a 6-3 run to bring the score to 20-12 and make BYU call a timeout of their own. Kathryn LeCheminant swung out wide and drilled home her third kill of the set to give the Cougars the final point, 25-16. Gray led the way with five kills and Haddock contributed four of her own in the opener.
Two blocks by LeCheminant helped BYU keep its foot on the gas, opening up a 9-2 lead in the second set to induce an early timeout from the Anteaters. As was the case in the first set, UC Irvine responded with a run to bring the score to 19-14 in favor of the Cougars. BYU stood tall and didn’t break as the Anteaters scored five straight points during their run. Trading side outs the rest of the way, BYU won the set on a kill by Gray to win 25-18. Jessica Jardine and Gray combined with four kills each to lead the Cougars.
In the third set, UC Irvine came out with a new sense of urgency, keeping BYU from opening a large lead early. With the score tied 3-3, the Cougars found their groove and went on an 11-6 run to take a 14-9 advantage. The Anteaters brought the score within one point two times in the middle of the set at 14-13 and 15-14 before eventually tying the set at 20-20. BYU went on a 5-0 run to finish the set and closed out the win 25-20.
The spikers return to action next week in the Deseret First Duel at in-state rival Utah on Sept. 17 at 7:00 p.m. MDT at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. The match will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network and on BYU Radio.