Ashton Hansen Hosford tallied six blocks to lead BYU against UNLV. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
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PROVO -- The homecourt was not kind to the BYU women’s volleyball team as the Cougars fell in three sets Saturday to the UNLV Rebels (25-15, 25-11, 28-26) in the Smith Fieldhouse. With their fourth-straight loss, BYU is now 9-7 overall and 2-5 in the Mountain West Conference.
“It’s really hard to watch all these losses pile up, but I truly believe that when we turn it around, we’re going to be unstoppable,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “This is where we find out what we’re made of and what kind of character we have.”
Sophomore Christina Measom led the way for BYU with nine kills on a .381 hitting percentage. Junior Ashton Hansen Hosford posted six blocks to pace the Cougars, but a .091 hitting percentage compared to a .341 mark for the Rebels made the difference. UNLV’s Jessica Walters tallied a match-high 14 kills.
Despite the outstanding early play Measom, who had three kills in the first seven BYU points, the Cougars still found themselves trailing 14-7 early in set one. An 11-3 stretch by the Rebels established the tone for the opening frame as UNLV’s offense seemed to score at will. With a final hitting percentage of .565, the Rebels cruised to the 25-15 victory.
BYU started strong in set two, but a six-point UNLV run put the Rebels in front at 10-5. The Cougars fought back with five straight points including two blocks to knot the score at 10-10. But the momentum was short-lived as the Rebels ran off nine points to take a commanding lead. Redshirt freshman Casey Speredon finally got a side-out for BYU with a kill down the line after entering the match, but the Cougars could not overcome the deficit. UNLV scored 15 of the last 16 points in the set to take the 25-11 win. BYU struggled offensively in the set, hitting -.077.
Set three was a battle from the start until a 4-0 BYU spurt gave the Cougars an 8-6 lead. Despite continued pressure from the Rebels, BYU managed to hold on to the lead to a 15-13 advantage until four straight UNLV scores put the Rebels ahead. Facing match point at 24-22, BYU came back with a Rebel error and a block from Hosford and Kiana Rogers to knot the score at 24-24. UNLV had another chance at 25-24, but two points later it was the Cougars who had the set opportunity at 26-25. A Rebel kill extended the period long enough the UNLV to string together three points and take the set, 28-26, on a Cougar hitting error.
Up next for BYU is a showdown with in-state rival Utah in the annual Deseret First Duel rivalry series. The match will begin Friday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse and be shown live worldwide on BYUTV.