Everything Kim Wilson touched was gold, as she put down a career-high 29 kills in leading the Cougars to a 3-1 win over Saint Louis on Saturday. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
SPRINGFIELD -- In a win against Saint Louis Saturday, BYU outside hitter Kim Wilson was unstoppable, posting a career-high 29 kills. The Cougars defeated the Billikens 3-1 (30-32, 30-23, 30-18, 30-22) before losing to host Southwest Missouri State 3-0 (30-20, 30-20, 30-26) on the final day of the SMS Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational Saturday.
"Kim was unstoppable against Saint Louis today," head coach Karen Lamb said. "Everything she touched was gold."
The first game provided to be a tough one, yet again, for the Cougars (4-3), as they claimed an early lead, only to let the Billikens (2-6) fight back and turn the tables. Even so, the Cougars offense was on full display as they put a season-high 23 kills on .380 hitting in the game.
"We were doing really well in the first game, but they caught us at the end," Lamb said. "We have to keep playing well and not get lulled to sleep."
BYU took the subsequent three games in convincing fashion, collecting 18 kills in each game. The Cougars hit a collective .362 in the match, while holding Saint Louis to .145.
While leading the Cougars with 29 kills, Wilson also collected 13 digs, for her first career double-double and a career-high five aces, while hitting .522. For her efforts over the weekend, Wilson was named to the all-tournament team.
April Varner recorded 18 kills while hitting 359 to provide the Cougars with a potent outside attack. Lauren Richards had another stellar all-around match, as she dished out a career-high 65 assists to go with eight kills, five digs, three blocks, one ace and a .375 attack percentage.
In the night match, SMS (6-1) outplayed a road-weary Cougar squad to finish a perfect 4-0 in its own tournament.
The Bears cruised in the first two games before the Cougars took hold of an early lead in the third. BYU would hold the advantage in the early going by controlling play at the net, but a decisive 5-0 run by SMS tied the game at 19-19, before proceeding to take the match.
"Had we played the first and second games like we played the third, this would've been a different match," Lamb said. "We played a lot of games and we're fatigued, but SMS was the better team tonight."
Varner was the only Cougar with double-digit kills as she recorded 10, while hitting a team-high .269. Lindsey Metcalf led the team defensively with 18 digs
"We came here with the expectation to win four matches," Lamb said. "We're talented, but young and inconsistent right now. As a coaching staff, I thought we had a good game plan, but we can improve too, and we will."
The Cougars finished the tournament in third place at 2-2, behind SMS (4-0) and Arkansas (3-1).
The Cougars will return to Provo Sunday morning and prepare for the BYU Mizuno Classic presented by Courtyard Marriott on Friday and Saturday. BYU will make its home debut against No. 18 Ohio State on Friday at 7:30 p.m. (MDT).