Cougars’ season ends with NCAA tournament loss to No. 6 USC

The BYU women's volleyball team concluded their season in a 3-1 loss at No. 6 USC in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

LOS ANGELES – Another highly successful season for BYU women’s volleyball ended Friday night in a four-set (30-32, 13-25, 25-21, 16-25) loss to No. 6 USC in the regional semifinals of the 2013 NCAA tournament.  

The Cougars finished the season 24-7 overall and 15-3 in West Coast Conference play. BYU finished second in the WCC after losing a heartbreaking five-set match at San Diego in the regular season finale. This season also marked the second-straight year that the Cougars advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. The 2013 squad included the WCC Freshman of the Year in Whitney Young, All-WCC and All-Pacific South Region sophomore Alexa Gray, All-WCC senior Kathryn LeCheminant and All-Pacific South Region Honorable Mention sophomore Camry Godfrey.

“Hats off to USC,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “They played a wonderful match. They were really efficient. They served well and got us out of system a bunch. They served really tough. I'm happy for the chance I had to compete against those guys, and I felt that we were really well prepared. I'm happy for our team. Our kids have done a wonderful job all season; from the way they rebounded at losses. These are tough. These are the lessons in athletics and life. These kids are hurting, but I know that they'll respond and be a little stronger from that.”

Alexa Gray led the way for BYU with 23 kills from 55 attempts to hit a .273 clip. Sophomore setter Godfrey helped her team 49 assists, and Ciara Parker tied a team-high 17 digs in the season finale. Junior Tambre Haddock had her fourth consecutive double-double, her 18th of the season, with 13 kills and 17 digs.

Godfrey got things started in the first set for BYU with a kill, but the Trojans jumped ahead to a 6-3 lead from three straight points. The Cougars then went on a 6-2 run to take a 9-7 advantage from consecutive Haddock kills. The score remained close from that point with BYU taking a 15-13 lead at the first media timeout. The Cougars took their first three-point lead from a Gray kill that took the score to 20-17 and forced USC to take their first timeout. The Trojans came back from a deficit to tie the set from points 23 to 30 before taking the 32-30 win. The set was tied a total of 19 times and had seven lead changes.    

The second set began point for point until BYU had a 7-6 advantage from a Jessica Jardine kill. A 4-0 run for USC followed to put them ahead 10-7, and a series of Trojan kills extended their lead to five at 16-11. USC took a 10-point lead at 23-13 from consecutive kills and another pair of kills gave the Trojans a 25-13 set two win.

BYU started the third set down 3-1 before Gray helped the Cougars overcome the deficit with five kills to take a 7-3 advantage. The Trojans took their first timeout of the set after Haddock and Gray recorded kills to extend the BYU lead back to four at 12-8. Young and Haddock extended that lead to seven with a block that put them ahead 18-11. USC tried to mount a comeback with a 4-0 late run, but the Cougars finished off the set 25-21 from a Jardine kill. In the third set Gray more than doubled her kills for the match, going from nine in the first two to 20 after the third.

The Trojans opened up the fourth set with a 3-0 lead, in part from two Samantha Bricio kills. BYU cut the lead to just one at 6-5 with the aid of a USC service error, but three-straight Trojan points brought the lead back to three at 8-5. The Cougars took their final timeout of the fourth set after two consecutive USC blocks extended the Trojan advantage to seven at 16-9. BYU couldn’t find an answer for USC’s offense in the end as the Trojans took the fourth set and match 25-16.

Alexa Gray was named to the Los Angeles Regional All-Tournament Team. 

Next year’s BYU women’s volleyball team will lose three currently rostered seniors (Kimberli Boswell, Jessica Jardine and Kathryn LeCheminant).

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