Casey Thurston set a season high of eight kills against Saint Mary's. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah--The BYU women’s volleyball team swept Saint Mary’s 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-13) for its first West Coast Conference win Thursday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“We need to get better all the time,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “The win helps give us confidence and is a good measuring stick.”
The win was a stark contrast to the last meeting between the two teams in the BYU Nike Invitational earlier this season, when Saint Mary’s pulled away with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 31-29) victory.
“I don’t know if I can put my finger on what the difference was,” Olmstead said. “We’ve had our ups and our downs, but it’s a credit to the team and it's hard work. They got out on the floor and executed.”
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In its inaugural season in the WCC, BYU moves to 12-3 overall and 1-0 in the WCC. Saint Mary’s now has an overall record of 6-7 and is 0-1 in conference play.
Sophomore opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson led the Cougars with 12 kills, hitting .550. Hamson leads the WCC in kills, averaging 4.30 per set.
Senior outside hitter Casey Thurston tallied a season-high eight kills on the night. Junior middle blocker Nicole Warner tied her season high for block assists with nine. Warner, who leads the WCC in blocks with a 1.66 average, posted a season-high 10 total blocks.
Saint Mary’s junior setter Missy White, who hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, led the Gaels in assists with 29. Junior setter Heather Hanneman had 27 assists for the Cougars.
The conference leader in blocks, BYU had a season-high 16.5 total team blocks to Saint Mary’s two.
After jumping out early, BYU never gave up the lead in the first set. Hamson dominated the set with six kills to help the Cougars to a 25-14 first-set victory.
In the second set, the Cougars went up 10-8 before the Gaels went on a 5-0 run to take the lead 13-10. Not to be outdone, the Cougars went on a 5-1 run of their own, regaining the lead 15-14. LeCheminant’s three-straight points sparked an 8-1 run to help the Cougars break away from the Gaels and take the second set, 25-17.
The beginning of the third set proved to be a closer contest. After a 2-2 tie, Saint Mary’s took a 6-2 lead. The Cougars caught up with the Gaels, tying the set again at 9-9. BYU then scored five straight points to take the lead 16-11.
What started as a back-and-forth battle ended in an 8-0 run for the Cougars, who took the third set 25-13.
BYU hit .423 in the third set, trouncing St. Mary’s .030 hitting average.
Next up, the Cougars hit the road to take on Loyola Marymount Thursday and San Diego Saturday.
BYU vs. SMC Box Score