Kayla Walker led the team with 15 kills against No. 8 UCLA. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
LINCOLN -- In a hard-fought match the BYU women’s volleyball team (4-4) fell to No. 8 UCLA (6-1) in four sets at the Ameritas Players Challenge held on the University of Nebraska campus.
“UCLA has a great program and they did a great job tonight, we just made too many errors,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “There were some good highlights in set three, but to finish off the match we made mistakes that gave them points. We will continue to get better and we are not that far behind a top-10 program in the nation.”
With the loss, UCLA now paces the series 24-5-1. BYU’s last win of the series came in 1993 in the NCAA tournament when they won in three sets.
Senior rightside hitter Kayla Walker posted the only double-digit kills on the night with 15 while junior setter Kiana Rogers set 23 of 24 assists. In comparison to the .208 hitting percentage of UCLA, the Cougars were only able to hit at .048. Senior libero Morgan Lloyd Sorensen posted 11 digs while Christie Carpenter and Nicole Warner guarded the net with seven blocks apiece.
The bright spot in BYU’s game plan came from solid blocking. The Cougars posted 16 team blocks to UCLA’s six.
Although the Cougars scored the first point in the first set, they would play catch-up the rest of the set. BYU’s only points came from UCLA’s attack errors, two kills by Walker, five blocks and Christina Measom and Rogers tallying one kill each. The set ended with a bad set by BYU and the Bruins winning the first 25-16.
BYU was behind the entire second set, having the biggest UCLA run ruin its chances by posting nine-straight points ending at 18-8. Walker posted five kills with Casey Speredon Thurston adding one kill. UCLA’s Amanda Gil posted the last kill of set two, holding the Cougars to their least amount of points of the night at 25-11.
Even after being down five points in two different instances during the third, the Cougars came back to knot the score at 17 with a kill by Carpenter. The score was again tied at 18 with an attack error on UCLA and then BYU took the lead with a triple block from Measom, Carpenter and Thurston at 19-18. They maintained the lead and ended the set edging the Bruins at 25-23, causing the match to go into a fourth set.
Carpenter posted the first kill of set four, assisted by Rogers, but even a three-point lead early on wouldn’t be enough for the Cougars to send the match into five sets. The Cougars were unable to find a groove in the passing game, causing the Bruins to run up the score, ending with a 6-0 UCLA run and a 10-point deficit of 25-15.
“We look forward to playing an exciting match against Nebraska tomorrow,” said Goulding. “They have a phenomenal crowd and it will be a tough match, but we look to improve each game.”
The Cougars will next take on No. 5 Nebraska Friday at 6 p.m. MT in their second match of the Ameritas Players Challenge.