Cougars Hold Off Zags

Heather Hannemann reached a career-high of 54 assists against Gonzaga. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

SPOKANE, Wash.—A third-set scare couldn’t hold the BYU women’s volleyball team back from a 3-1 (25-23, 25-8, 25-27, 25-19) rout of Gonzaga Monday night, which pushed the Cougars to a tie with San Francisco for third place in the West Coast Conference.

“We’re excited to win this one on the road,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We had a good second set, but didn’t come out as strong in the third. It was nice we could battle down to the wire. They won 27-25, but we responded well in the fourth and made adjustments to come back to win.”

Outside hitter Christie Carpenter once again led the Cougars (16-5, 5-2) in kills with 17, also putting in eight digs and a career-high five service aces against Gonzaga (7-12, 1-7). Jennifer Hamson had 16 kills and six digs at the opposite hitter position and Nicole Warner had 11 kills and four blocks at middle blocker. Setter Heather Hannemann set a new career high in assists with 54. Libero Kendalyn Hartsock contributed 17 digs to lead the team.

The Cougars got off to a rocky start, losing a 3-1 lead to fall behind 9-7. BYU kept within two until a 4-0 Bulldog scoring streak put the Cougars back 14-11. A kill by Gonzaga’s Kylie Edinger brought the score to 19-15 before BYU got back on its game. Hamson and Carpenter took the Cougars on a 6-1 streak with kills and errors by Gonzaga to push BYU to the top 20-19. From there, Hamson laid down two kills to help BYU to the 25-23 set win.

BYU took control of the second set, going up 4-1 with the help of Warner and Hamson kills. The Cougars increased that lead to 10-4 and continued their dominance on the court. Carpenter spurred BYU to a 10-point lead and Hamson threw down back-to-back kills to raise the score to 22-7. The Bulldogs would only score one more point before a Gonzaga attack error ended the set for the Cougars 25-8.

Carpenter opened the third set with two kills to put the Cougars ahead 2-1. The Bulldogs fought back to tie the set 3-3. BYU couldn’t shake off Gonzaga, resulting in four more ties before Gonzaga took a 9-7 lead. The score swung back and forth until the Cougars broke free for a 20-17 lead on Hamson’s kill. Terran Poindexter brought it back for Gonzaga, tying the set 22-22 before Meredith Crenshaw stole back the lead for the Bulldogs. But an error from Crenshaw blocked Gonzaga from an easy win. The Bulldogs had to punch out three more points to finally get the 27-25 third-set win.

A 6-1 BYU scoring streak opened the final set, featuring kills by Carpenter, Warner and Hamson. Carpenter pushed it to an eight-point lead on a kill. The Bulldogs never recovered, cutting the lead to five before the Cougars closed out the set 25-19.

“We were very appreciative of fan support from local (LDS) institute,” Olmstead said. “All the cheering from the many BYU fans in attendance got us fired up. That helped us big time.”

BYU has a difficult schedule for the upcoming week, facing both No. 17 Pepperdine and No. 16 San Diego, Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Fans wearing pink will be admitted free to the Dig Pink match against San Diego and the first 120 spectators will receive free brownies.

BYU vs. Gonzaga Box Score