(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – After going down two sets to one, No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball rallied to win in five sets (25-23, 23-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-12) against Loyola Marymount Saturday afternoon at the Smith Fieldhouse.
The Lions came out strong in the fifth set, scoring three quick points. Fighting back, the Cougars went on a 5-0 run led by two kills from McKenna Miller to take the 8-6 advantage. LMU scored three straight to take back the lead, 9-8, forcing a BYU timeout. Whitney Young Howard caught fire, helping the Cougars on a 4-1 run with two kills and a block, pushing back in from 12-10. Alohi Robins-Hardy came in on match point at the service line, serving a tough ball to force an LMU attack error, giving BYU the 15-12 fifth-set win and the match.
"LMU is one of the best defensive teams in the conference, so we told our girls to keep swinging aggressively," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "LMU was going to get its digs, but we just had to hang in there and keep fighting. I thought our girls did that all the way through the fifth set. That fourth set was great in that we were able to fight after being down 2-1 to take it to a fifth set. I thought they did a good job."
This was BYU’s (19-3, 8-2 West Coast Conference) fifth five-set match of the year, taking three of the matches. The Cougars had 13 team blocks in the win to the Lions’ (14-8, 5-5 WCC) seven. LMU had 78 digs in the match to BYU’s 55. The Lions also had two players with 20-plus kills, including four players in double figures.
Freshman Miller led the team offensively with 20 kills to go with her three blocks. Senior middle blocker Howard collected a career high 12 kills on a .310 clip with five blocks. Leading the defensive effort was libero Mary Lake with 18 digs and Amy Boswell with eight blocks. Lyndie Haddock had 50 assists and eight digs in the win.
Howard and Lacy Haddock combined for a stop to go up 4-3 early in the first set. After the two teams traded points for a while, Howard led the Cougars on a 5-0 run after she had two kills and a block to push the lead to 13-6. Miller slammed down three kills in a row to get a 20-13 advantage for BYU. The Lions climbed their way back into the set, putting together four-straight points. A well-placed tip from Haddock ended that run, but LMU ran off three more in a row to tie the game at 23-23. Boswell’s tip-kill and her block with Miller stopped the comeback, giving BYU the first set 25-23.
The Lions rode the momentum from the end of set one to take an early 9-4 lead in the second set after a 5-0 run. To get to a one-point deficit and force a timeout for the visiting team, 13-12, Boswell and Miller teamed up for a block, the team’s third since the LMU run. Three kills in a row from Miller and a block from Boswell and Veronica Jones-Perry tied the game up 17-17. Jones-Perry had a career-high six blocks in the match. The Lions responded, pushing ahead with a 3-0 run to make it 21-18. The Cougars climbed back within one, but it was not enough. BYU dropped the second set 25-23.
After LMU took the early lead in the third set, a kill from Miller tied it up at 6-6. The Lions then went on a 5-1 run to go up 11-7. The Cougars strung together four-straight points, capped off by an overpass kill from Howard, to tie it up 12-all. A hitting error from LMU gave BYU the 14-13 lead, its first advantage since 1-0. However, the Lions responded with a 6-1 run. A kill from Miller and an ace from Boswell tied the set again at 20 apiece, but the Cougars dropped the set 25-21 after a 5-1 run from the visitors.
BYU fell behind early in the fourth set, but back-to-back blocks from Boswell and Lyndie Haddock tied the game up at 5-5. Howard killed the ball following a tough hustle play by Lake to make it 10-9 in BYU’s favor. The Lions took the lead on a 3-0 run, but Boswell’s well-placed tip put the Cougars within one, 14-13. A quick kill from Boswell put BYU back on top 19-18 after two-straight points, forcing an LMU timeout. Miller scored three of the Cougars’ last six points to take the fourth set 25-22, forcing a decisive fifth set.
The Cougars return to the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, Oct. 28, for a top-20 matchup with the San Diego Toreros at 7 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised live on BYUtv along with streaming options on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143.