BYU's Rachel Dyer and Kayla Walker were named to the Texas A&M Invitational All-Tournament Team. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Rachel Dyer and Kayla Walker Named All-Tournament
COLLEGE STATION -- The No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball team dropped its first match of the season on Saturday falling in four sets (16-25, 26-24, 18-25, 16-25) to Texas A&M in the championship match of the Texas A&M Invitational. Junior Kayla Walker and senior Rachel Dyer were each named to the All-Tournament Team.
“I’m obviously disappointed with how we lost, but Texas A&M is a great team playing on their floor in front of their fans in their tournament,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be a little bit humbled during this point of our season. There’s a lot we can learn from this weekend, and I think it will prove valuable going forward.”
Walker led the way for the Cougars with 11 kills while senior co-captains Bryn Porter and Dyer each posted 10. Sophomore setter Kiana Rogers kept her double-double streak alive at five straight with 33 assists and 11 digs. Junior Morgan Lloyd paced BYU with 17 digs while freshman Malia Marquardt added 15. The Cougars outblocked the Aggies, 9.5-8.0, thanks in part to five rejections each from Dyer and Marquardt, but the BYU offense struggled all night, hitting just .133 in the match.
The Cougars started slow in set one and struggled to find any rhythm on offense or defense as the Aggies rolled to a 21-10 lead. BYU slowly began to regain composure and control towards the end of the set, putting together a 6-2 run before falling 25-16. However, the momentum from the end of the first frame stuck with the Cougars in the second as the proverbial shoe ended up on the other foot. BYU established an early 10-4 lead before the Aggies were able to respond with three straight points. But the Cougars kept pushing and kept Texas A&M at bay with timely contributions from all over the court.
Leading 23-18, BYU looked on the way to evening the set until a 5-0 Aggie run knotted the score made it anyone’s set to take. A tip over the block from Porter ended the Aggie run and gave the Cougars the set point opportunity, but a costly service error once again evened the tally. However, BYU’s strong offensive mentality shone through as Ashton Hosford and Walker recorded back-to-back winners to seal the set, 26-24.
BYU came out strong again in set three as an offensive battle ensued between the two teams. The Cougars had the advantage early on at 8-5 until Texas A&M got hot with an 11-4 run to go up 16-12. Walker and Porter combined for two scores, but moments later the Aggie lead was back to five points at 19-14, prompting a BYU timeout. The Cougars got solid play from the middle out of the break with kills from Hosford and Dyer but could not make it all the way back, falling 25-18.
Looking for victory on their home court, the Aggies came out firing in set four, building a 13-6 lead. The Cougars’ first offensive point did come until their seventh when Marquardt killed a ball to make it 13-7. That trend continued as BYU once again could not find any offensive rhythm, eventually falling 25-16. The Cougars hit a disappointing -.037 in the set with four kills and five errors.
BYU will stay on the road for its next weekend slate, traveling to Wisconsin for the Inntowner Invitational next Friday and Saturday, featuring matches against Boise State, Central Michigan and the No. 10 Badgers.
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.