The Cougars posted 10 blocks in a sweep of Air Force Saturday night. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Defense was the order of the day for the No. 24 BYU women’s volleyball team as the Cougars swept Air Force in their MWC home opener, playing in the Smith Fieldhouse for the first time in 28 days.
“We were able to really get our middles going tonight,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “I really like where we’re at. We’re in a good situation.”
BYU (9-3, 2-1 MWC) posted 10 blocks on the night while holding the Falcons (4-11, 0-4 MWC) to just a .067 hitting percentage. Senior middle blocker Rachel Dyer led the way for the Cougars with nine kills on .500 hitting while posting a season-high seven rejections. Sophomore libero Melissa Lake posted 16 digs to pace the Cougars in her first career start. Sophomore setter Kiana Rogers had a solid all-around match with 27 assists, eight digs, four kills and two blocks.
Set one began with the two teams trading points to a 6-6 tie until BYU took control with an 8-2 run. Back-to-back blocks from Dyer and Malia Marquardt highlighted the spurt that allowed the Cougars to take a 14-8 lead. The Falcons attempted a comeback, but BYU scored eight of the last 10 points to take the 25-13 victory. The Cougars tallied five rejections in the set led by three each from Dyer and Marquardt.
After two Falcon points to open the second set, Dyer got BYU on the board with a huge kill straight down the middle. Air Force kept the pressure on to a 9-9 tie until BYU scored three straight points. However, just when it looked like the Cougars would take over, three points the other way had the score knotted once again. A kill from Kayla Walker and a block by Dyer and Rogers put BYU up by two at 14-12, which would prove the difference in the set. The Falcons tried to push back with a 5-1 run but could not overtake the Cougars, who surged to the 25-20 win.
With the sweep on the horizon, BYU came out firing in set three, jumping out to a 7-2 lead as freshman Casey Speredon and sophomore Christina Measom made their debuts. The Falcons responded with a 6-1 run that allowed them to tie the set at 9-9. A battle ensued from there as AFA was able to take its first lead of the set at 13-12, but BYU responded on the next ball with a kill from Dyer. The winner proved to be the spark the Cougars were looking for as it began a 9-2 BYU run to give the Cougars a 21-15 advantage. From there, BYU pulled out the 25-19 triumph.
The Cougars will now hit the road for the fourth time in the last five weeks as they continue MWC play at New Mexico and TCU. BYU will face the Lobos on Thursday at 7 p.m. in a match broadcast on both The Mtn. and BYU Radio. Saturday’s match at the Horned Frogs will begin at 1 p.m. and be aired tape-delay on BYU Radio at 5 p.m.
Fans can join the official BYU Women’s Volleyball Texting Group by texting “WVB” to 83043. Members of the group will get updates about game times and special promotions.