(Photo by Bella Torgerson/BYU Photo)
MORGANTOWN, W.V. – Behind a balanced blocking effort, No. 9 BYU women’s volleyball won its season opener 3-0 (29-27, 25-20, 25-20) Friday night against West Virginia in the Blue and Gold Player’s Challenge.
“The first match of the season is always a fun time,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We played well through the ups and downs you would expect in an opening match. This is just a start and we have a lot of room to improve.”
As a team, BYU had 18 total blocks. Jennifer Hamson led the Cougars with 10 kills while hitting at a .333 clip, nine digs and five blocks. Alexa Gray also contributed a team-high 10 kills. Sophomores Amy Boswell and Whitney Young led the team in blocks with nine and six, respectively. They both additionally contributed six kills. Junior Ciara Parker had a team-high 12 digs while junior Camry Godfrey added 29 assists.
BYU (1-0) got its first point from a Hamson kill. The Cougars quickly jumped out to a 5-2 lead after a trio of blocks. West Virginia (0-1) battled back following a timeout to tie things up at 8 apiece. After the Mountaineers took a 13-10 advantage, BYU took a turn battling back to even the score at 14-14. The two teams traded points from there until the Cougars went ahead 19-17 on a Boswell kill down the middle. West Virginia then rallied to tie the score at points 24 through 27 before a block from Young and Hamson gave BYU a 29-27 set one victory.
Multiple Mountaineer attack errors helped the Cougars to an early 8-3 lead to begin the second set. The momentum began to shift back towards West Virginia as a trio of consecutive points tied the score at 11-11. The Mountaineers took their first lead at 16-15 from an ace, prompting an Olmstead timeout. BYU quickly responded with a 6-0 run to retake the lead at 21-16. Two straight kills from Gray ended the second set as BYU won 25-20.
The Cougars went up 9-2 to begin the third set. West Virginia then followed with a 5-1 run to cut the BYU advantage to three at 10-7. Another kill from Gray extended BYU’s lead to 15-10. A pair of Hamson kills then helped bring BYU’s lead to a set-high eight at 20-12. The Mountaineers followed by mounting a comeback, going on a 6-1 streak to cut the Cougars’ lead to three at 21-18. The rally proved to be too little too late as BYU took the set and match 25-20 from a Hamson kill.
The Cougars continue competition in the Gold & Blue Player’s Challenge tomorrow when they face off against IUPUI and Toledo. Links to live stats for tomorrow’s matches can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.