No. 21 BYU loses a heartbreaker to No. 9 San Diego for WCC title

No. 21 BYU loses in five sets at No. 9 San Diego for the WCC title. (Photo by Marcos Escalona/BYU Photo)

SAN DIEGO – BYU women’s volleyball lost in a five-set (25-27, 25-15, 25-19, 21-25, 11-15) heartbreaker on the road at No. 9 San Diego on Saturday.

“Congratulations to San Diego for winning the conference championship,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “It was an exciting match all the way to the end. Our girls fought hard and have no reason to not be pleased with their effort. A few plays went San Diego's way today and that's what caught up to us in the end.”

Sophomore Alexa Gray led the team with 20 kills on 57 attempts to hit a .228 clip, while adding six digs and five blocks. Sophomore Ciara Parker added a team-high 22 digs, and sophomore Camry Godfrey led the team in assists with 46. Senior middle blocker Kathryn LeCheminant contributed nine blocks, a team-high, to help the team defensively.

The fifth set began with a LeCheminant and Gray block. BYU (22-6, 15-3 West Coast Conference) took an early 4-2 lead, but San Diego (24-3, 16-2 WCC) quickly pulled ahead 6-5 from a block. The Toreros led by as many as five points at 12-7. The Cougars’ rally ended short as San Diego won the fifth and final set 15-11.

LeCheminant gave the Cougars their first point of the first set from a kill. Both teams traded scores until BYU racked up three consecutive points to give the Cougars a 12-9 advantage. Two straight errors by the Toreros put BYU up 17-12, which forced a San Diego timeout. Following the break, a 4-1 rally put the Toreros down just two at 18-16. The two squads exchanged points until another 4-1 San Diego rally tied the set at 24. The Toreros scored three-straight points to take the first set 27-25.

The second set began with neither side taking a lead of more than two points. It wasn’t until a LeCheminant and Godfrey block that the Cougars took a three-point lead at 11-8. BYU later went on a 5-0 run, with four of those points coming from San Diego attack errors, to take a 20-11 lead. Two consecutive blocks from LeCheminant gave the Cougars the 25-15 set two win.

Tambre Haddock started things off in the third set with a service ace. For the third-straight set, both teams traded points early with neither side taking more than a two-point lead. That changed with another Torero attack error that put BYU up 18-15. Gray then gave the Cougars two consecutive kills that put her team up 22-17. Whitney Young finished off the third set 25-19 with a kill.

Gray picked up where she left off in the third set by starting the fourth with a kill. BYU was down 5-4, but the Cougars quickly rallied with a 5-0 run to take a 9-5 lead and force San Diego to call their first timeout of the set. The Toreros quickly closed the gap, going on a 4-1 run to take a 13-12 advantage. BYU fought its way back with Haddock getting a kill after a long rally to tie things up at 17-17. San Diego took over from that point, leading by as many as four at 23-19. The Cougars scored two quick points to make the score 23-21, but the rally proved short as the Toreros took the fourth set 25-21 to take the match to a fifth.

The loss leaves BYU in sole possession of second-place in the WCC.

The Cougars will look to rebound with hopes of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The selection show will be broadcast on ESPNU on Sunday, Dec. 1, at 9:30 p.m. EST. 

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