Seniors lead volleyball to sweep of Santa Clara

(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – Seniors Nicole Warner and Heather Hannemann led the No. 14 BYU women’s volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-9, 25-19, 25-20) victory this weekend over Santa Clara at the Smith Fieldhouse on Senior Day.

“We always say this is the greatest place to play, and for our seniors, their time is almost up,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We are so lucky to have had them on this team. They are such outstanding leaders, and I’m excited they have been able to have this season. Looking forward, we are all focusing on our next match. That is the only thing that matters right now.”

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The Cougars improve their record to 24-2 overall and 12-2 in the West Coast Conference. The Broncos fall to 20-9 overall and 9-5 in the WCC.

Warner finished the match with seven kills and a game-high four blocks, while Hannemann led the team with 32 assists making 2,247 in her career.

Alexa Gray finished with 13 kills, and Jennifer Hamson finished with 11 kills and 10 digs, her sixth double-double of the year. Tia Withers led the Cougar defense with 14 digs.

At the start of set one, the Cougars jumped out to an early 8-0 lead beginning with a kill from senior middle blocker Warner who got her team pumped up on the first play of the game. BYU earned several more points due to a net violation and a passing error from Santa Clara and an ace from Hannemann.

Santa Clara’s first point of the match came from Megan Anders with a kill from the middle. Warner, however, blocked her next two attempts, giving the Cougars an 11-1 lead. Freshman Gray helped continue that lead 22-7 with back-to-back kills from the outside.

At the end of set one, Gray blocked Santa Clara’s Kayla Lommori to give the Cougars set point, but the Broncos went on a 3-0 run before ending the set for the Cougars with a service error. The Cougars ended the set with three blocks apiece from LeCheminant, Warner and Hamson, two from Kimberly Dahl and one from Gray.

Similarly to set one, the Cougars jumped out to an early 3-0 lead due to a service ace from Hannemann, her fourth of the night for a career high, passing errors from Santa Clara and a kill from Hamson. Despite the early lead, the Broncos stayed in the match keeping within three or four points with contributions from Lexi Williamson and Anders. Meanwhile, Hamson continued to pace the Cougars recording her 1,000th career kill.

Toward the end of set two, Gray hit a hard angel kill from the outside, putting the Cougars up 19-17. Warner, who leads the NCAA in blocks per set, continued her dominance in the middle with another block. Another kill from Hamson, a net violation from Santa Clara and a kill from Warner closed out set two 25-19.

With BYU up two sets to zero, Santa Clara got its first lead of the game going up 2-1 with kills from Katherine Douglas and Taylor Milton. Warner tied to the game at two with a kill in the middle.

Playing their best volleyball of the match, the Broncos went up 13-8, but the Cougars closed the gap 15-13 with kills from Gray and Hamson and several errors from the Broncos.  Two kills from LeCheminant and one from Hamson tied the game at 17 and another kill from Gray gave the Cougars their first lead since the beginning of the set, 18-17. The Cougars went up 20-17 with more kills from Gray and LeCheminant. A final kill from Hamson closed out the set 25-20 and gave the match to BYU.

Up next, the Cougars head to California for two of their last three matches against Pepperdine and San Diego on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. The match against Pepperdine begins at 7 p.m. PST.

SCU vs. BYU Box Score