(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah -- The No. 12-seeded BYU women's volleyball team swiftly took care of New Mexico State 3-0 (25-8, 25-17, 25-14) in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"I’m just so happy for these kids," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "They followed our game plan. They came out exactly the way we wanted them to. Our number one key tonight was to put the pressure on them. They got their hands in front of the attackers and made a bunch of nice digs in the back row. I’m overall really, really pleased with them staying the course."
Junior opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson led the Cougar attack with a double-double, 13 kills and 12 digs, for her eighth time this season. Senior middle blocker Nicole Warner led BYU in blocks, with eight, and hitting percentage, .714, while senior setter Heather Hannemann rallied for 28 assists.
BYU (27-3, 13-3 WCC) had the advantage against New Mexico State (22-11, 12-6 WAC) in kills (38-22), blocks (12-5) and digs (39-23).
The Cougars jumped out on top with three straight points to kick off the first set. A kill from Warner sparked a 9-0 rally that put BYU on top 12-2. Freshman outside hitter Kimberly Dahl contributed three kills during the run. The teams exchanged points until two back-to-back kills by freshman outside hitter Alexa Gray and Hamson moved the score to 22-7 in the Cougars' favor. New Mexico State attempted a comeback with three straight points, but it wasn't enough as a kill by Hamson brought BYU within one of the set victory. Nicole Warner finished the set off on the next point with a kill to overpower the Aggies, 25-8, and take a 1-0 lead.
After being down 4-2 early in the second set, the Cougars worked their way back and Hamson tied the match at 5-5 with a kill that sparked a 4-0 run. A block by Hamson and Warner moved the Cougars ahead 15-10. Another 6-0 run, aided by three Hamson kills, padded BYU's lead to 20-11. The Aggies managed five of the next seven points to work their way within six. With BYU ahead 23-17, Dahl finished off a long rally to bring up the set point. The Cougars grabbed the second set, 25-17, with a kill by Gray.
The duo of Hamson and Warner blocked New Mexico State to move in front 3-0 to start the third set. Down 5-1, the Aggies scored four straight to tie the set. The Cougars switched the momentum back in their favor, taking the next two to regain the lead. BYU ran away with it from there with three consecutive kills by Hamson, Gray and Hannemann. They then scored another three points in a row to extend the lead to 16-9. The Cougars moved in front 22-14 as Warner registered another block and kill. Following a Hamson kill, sophomore libero Tia Withers wrapped up the set, 25-14, and match with an ace.
"I think that’s a good team [New Mexico State] who was on a nice little roll there," Olmstead said. "[NMSU coach] Mike Jordan does a great job. He’s comfortable here in the NCAA Tournament and they were playing well through that WAC Championship."
BYU advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Oklahoma Saturday at 7 p.m. MST at the Smith Fieldhouse. The match will be broadcast on BYUtv and live streamed on byutvsports.com.
"I’m excited for these kids and it's right where I think they deserve to be," Olmstead added.
NMSU vs. BYU Box Score
Oklahoma defeats Arizona State
Kicking off the opening round of the NCAA DI Women's Volleyball Championships, Oklahoma defeated Arizona State 3-2 (20-25, 25-19, 25-18, 19-25, 15-13) Friday night at Elaine Michaelis Court.
Morgan Reynolds led the Sooners with 21 kills and Julia Doyle totaled 51 assists for Oklahoma. Sooner libero Maria Fernanda led all players with 27 digs, and Alexis Pinson had a game-high eight blocks for ASU.
"This was a big battle between a Pac-12 and a Big 12 team," Oklahoma head coach Santiago Restrepo said. "We happened to come through on the fifth set, and we fought like champions. It was a great win, but tomorrow is a different day and it brings a different challenge."
Arizona State head coach Jason Watson credited his players for their hard work throughout the season.
"I'm incredibly proud of our student-athletes," Watson said. "This has been an enormous accomplishment for us, to get to this point. I'm sad that it's over, but I certainly don't want anybody to minimize the amount of effort and work it has taken to get to this point.
Arizona State had control of the match early, building an 11-4 advantage on the strength of a 7-0 run. The Sooners regained composure but were never able to pull within four points as the Sun Devils won the set 25-20. Erica Wilson had six kills in the opening set for Arizona State while teammates Macey Gardner and Whitney Follette had four kills apiece. ASU also had two service aces in the set. Sallie McLaurin led the way for Oklahoma with five kills in Set 1.
Oklahoma responded in the second set with a quick start, working up a 15-8 lead midway through the set. ASU cut the lead to 16-13, but Oklahoma regained momentum after a timeout and won the set 25-19. Reynolds finished it off for the Sooners with two kills in a row to even the match at 1-1. Reynolds had four kills in the set while her teammate Tara Dunn recorded five.
Two consecutive service aces by Fernanda highlighted a 10-0 run for Oklahoma in the third set. Pinson finally ended the drought for ASU with a kill that brought the score to 12-6 in favor of the Sooners. Follette had three kills during a spurt that brought the Sun Devils within two points at 14-12, but Oklahoma prevailed, taking the set 25-17 to go up 2-1 in the match. Reynolds added five more kills during Set 3 and Fernanda had 10 digs in the set.
Pinson and Nora Tuioti-Mariner teamed up for a pair of blocks that gave ASU a 9-6 advantage before the first timeout of Set 4. Oklahoma never seriously challenged ASU for the remainder of the set and the Sun Devils tied the match at 2-2 with a 25-19 win. Reynolds had another five kills during the set, but it wasn't enough as the Sun Devils forced a fifth set.
The Sooners led 5-2 early in the final set, but a couple nice kills from Wilson helped ASU take an 8-7 lead before the teams switched sides. With the score tied 9-9, Arizona State showed great defensive poise and energized the crowd after Gardner capped off a long rally with a kill. Another kill by Gardner put ASU up 11-9, but a pair of kills from Reynolds helped Oklahoma regain the lead at 12-11. The Sooners had a chance to win serving 14-12, but Gardner responded with another kill for ASU. A strong spike by Reynolds was enough to finish things off on the next rally, however, as Oklahoma claimed the set and match.