(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah -- In a neck-and-neck match-up, No. 9 BYU women’s volleyball fell to Utah in a five-set (27-25, 25-20, 23-25, 17-25, 15-13) heartbreaker Thursday night in the Deseret First Duel.
“It was a great match and it was exactly what I thought it was going to be,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “Congrats to Utah, they executed when it mattered. I’m really proud of our team for coming back from being down 0-2 to give ourselves a chance, but we couldn’t get it done in the end.”
Freshman McKenna Miller led the Cougars offensively with 24 kills, while sophomore Veronica Jones-Perry added a career-high 20 kills of her own. Senior Amy Boswell recorded six blocks along with seven kills and four digs. Mary Lake collected a team-leading 21 digs and Lyndie Haddock paced the team with 47 assists and nine digs.
BYU (9-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead to begin the decisive fifth set. Utah (8-2) quickly responded with a 5-2 run to take a 7-4 lead, forcing the Cougars to use their first timeout. A kill by Jones-Perry then brought the Cougars’ deficit down to two, 7-5, before the teams switched courts. Jones-Perry struck again after a Makenna Santiago ace to bring the teams back to being tied at 8-8. A couple of Ute attack errors helped the Cougars take the lead, 10-9. The Utes responded quickly to bring the teams back to being tied at 13-13. Two kills from Utah’s Adora Anae ended the match for the Utes, 15-13.
The Cougars and Utes traded points back and forth in the first minutes of the first set until the Cougars finally took the lead at 4-3. Utah rallied back and made up the difference right away to tie BYU and slowly build its lead to 7-5. With two kills from Miller, the Cougars were back in the set matching the Ute’s pace. BYU led 14-12, until two kills from the Utes brought the teams back to 14-all. Kills by Haddock and Jones-Perry gave the Cougars a 18-16 edge, but the Utes matched those two kills with two of their own to tie things up at 18 apiece. An error from Utah led the Utes to take a timeout as the Cougars then held the lead at 20-19. Utah took over after a timeout to take a 23-21 advantage. The teams traded points again until the Utes took the two-point lead to end the first set in extra points, 27-25.
Three kills from Miller started off the second set to help the Cougars match Utah 5-5. Jones-Perry recorded her eighth kill of the night to then bring the teams back together at 9-9. Miller with her tenth and eleventh kill, helped the Cougars take the lead 11-9. Another big kill from Miller and then Howard helped BYU take a 15-12 edge before a media timeout. After an error, the Utes came back on a 5-0 run to bring them back ahead 17-16, but another kill from Jones-Perry ended the run and brought the score to 17-17. On a 3-0 rally, Utah regained the advantage coming within striking distance of set point. A huge kill from Jones-Perry quickly ended the run. The Utes came back fired up from the timeout, ending the second set on a 4-1 run, 25-20.
In the third set, both teams exchanged scores until the Utes went on a 4-2 rally to give them their highest lead of the set at 15-13. After a break, Utah kept its streak alive with a 4-1 rally, bringing the score to 19-15. The Cougars rallied back with a run of 7-1 to take the lead by two before Utah called a timeout. The Utes came back scoring the first two points following the break. Kills from Miller and Jones-Perry brought the Cougars to set point, 24-23. With her 14th kill of the night, Jones-Perry ended the third set in favor of the Cougars, 25-23.
Utah started the fourth set out on a 3-0 run before two attack errors gave BYU its first points. Another 4-0 run for the Utes put the Cougars on the offensive scramble. A kill by Miller led BYU in a 5-0 run to bring the two teams back together at 7-7. With kills from Haddock, Jones-Perry and Boswell, the Cougars took off again on a 10-2 run to extend their lead to 17-9. A Jones-Perry kill and attack error from Utah then put BYU up 19-11. The Cougars kept the momentum, collecting two more kills from Boswell and Miller, to take a 23-15 lead. An attack error from Utah gave the Cougars set point before another Ute error gave BYU set point, 25-17, sending it to the decisive fifth set.
“That match was exactly what we needed,” coach Olmstead said. “It’s a quick turn around so we’ll have to learn from it quickly.”
The Cougars return to action tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 15, to face CSUN at 7 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse. The match will be streamed live on BYUtv. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.