Junior Kayla Walker led BYU with 12 kills at CSU.
FORT COLLINS -- In a battle of Mountain West Conference titans, the No. 24 BYU women’s volleyball team went down in three sets (18-25, 20-25, 19-25) at No. 15 Colorado State Saturday night. A powerful CSU block combined with the play of reigning MWC Player of the Year Mekana Barnes proved too much for the Cougars, who fell to 8-3 overall and 1-1 in league play while the Rams improve to 9-1 overall and 2-0 in MWC action.
“Colorado State is a great team,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “They kept us out of our systems, and we were never able to get going. But I really think we can match up with this team so I look forward to seeing them again in November in the Smith Fieldhouse.”
Junior Kayla Walker was the only Cougar in double figures with 12 kills as the BYU offense struggled, hitting only .077 on the night. Sophomore Melissa Lake tallied a team-best 12 digs while senior Rachel Dyer paced the Cougars with five blocks. CSU’s Barnes posted 10 kills on .667 hitting while recording six rejections, helping the Rams notch a dominating 14 blocks on the night.
The beginning of the first set lived up to the hype as the two evenly matched teams traded points early on. CSU finally scored three straight to take a 6-4 lead, but BYU quickly responded with a 4-0 spurt to go up 8-6. Three more Ram scores prevented the Cougars from extending the lead any further and led to a 9-9 tie. From there, the two teams once again battled for every score until the Rams put together four straight to prompt a Cougar timeout. A service error and a hitting error by CSU helped BYU climb back in it and cut the lead to three points at 19-16, but that was as close as the Cougars would come. The Rams closed out the set scoring four of the last five points to take it, 25-18.
BYU struggled early in set two as the Rams scored the first six points and eventually ran out to a 9-2 lead. But the Cougars were not about to roll over as they took control of the momentum with a 7-0 run thanks in part to two aces from Bryn Porter to knot the score at 9-9. However, BYU was never able to retake the lead, a fact that proved important down the stretch as the Rams regained their composure and managed to stay just one step ahead of the surging Cougars. Perhaps drained emotionally by the early comeback, BYU was not able to overtake the Rams, eventually falling 25-20.
With their backs against the wall, the Cougars scored the first two points of set three and fought to a 4-4 tie. But the set was all CSU from there as the Rams continued to face up on the Cougar attack and come up with key scores. BYU had the chance to tie the set at 12-11, but the Rams scored four points out of a timeout and cruised from there, recording the 25-19 win.
After three straight weeks on the road, the Cougars will return to the friendly confines of the Smith Fieldhouse next Saturday as they host Air Force at 7 p.m. The match will be televised live on BYUTV.
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.