(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – Whitney Young recorded her first career double-double to lead BYU to a win in a four-set thriller (18-25, 25-22, 25-10, 28-26) over Santa Clara on Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
The Cougars (13-3, 6-0 West Coast Conference) set a season-high with 18 blocks in the set. The Broncos (7-8, 2-4 WCC) were held to a .132 clip for the entire match.
“I can’t say enough good things about that team (Santa Clara),” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I was saying that they are a better team than their record indicates. They put a ton of pressure on us from the service line. We lost that opening set and you can tell by the score that we were a little shell-shocked.”
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Young set a career-high with 10 kills and 11 blocks to lead four Cougars in double-digit kills. Kathryn LeCheminant had 10 kills, Alexa Gray had 13 and Tambre Haddock had 10 kills. Hannah Robison set a career-high with nine kills and Camry Godfrey recorded her fourth double-double and a career-high three aces in the win.
Both teams came ready to play in the first set with four ties before either team recorded 10 points. BYU opened with an early 4-1 lead before Santa Clara fought back and evened the score at 5-5. With the teams tied at 9-9, the Broncos used a good service game to take BYU out of their rhythm to go on a 12-5 run to lead 21-14 to force the Cougars to call their second timeout of the set. BYU fought back to force a Santa Clara timeout with the score at 22-17 but were unable to close the gap as the Broncos won the first set 25-18.
The second set began similar to the first set with BYU opening an early 4-2 lead before Santa Clara went on an 8-2 run to lead 10-6 and force a Cougar timeout. Every time BYU would try and fight back, the Broncos kept the pressure on and responded with a point of their own to push their lead to 19-11 and force a second Cougar timeout. With their backs to the wall, the Cougars scored 14 of the next 17 points to even the score at one set apiece.
Two straight aces by Tia Withers Welling and two straight blocks by BYU combined with two straight Santa Clara errors forced the Broncos to use two timeouts with the score 20-17 in favor of the visitors. After the second timeout, BYU continued their run and took their first lead at 22-21 since leading 4-2 early in the set. LeCheminant recorded the final point of the set to finish off the 14-3 run and give the Cougars a 25-22 win.
In the third set, BYU took control early and kept their foot on the gas pedal the whole time. The Cougars forced Santa Clara to call timeouts when leading 7-3 and 18-6 before cruising to a 25-10 win. Gray, Haddock and LeCheminant each notched three kills as the team hit a .545 clip. BYU recorded 10 blocks to hold the Broncos to a -.032 clip.
Since the middle of the second set to the end of the third set, BYU scored 39 out of the next 52 points to force Santa Clara out of sync and return to form.
“To come back from a deficit of 19-11 and to come back and win that set was huge,” Olmstead said. “It was all them the whole time. I just told them to take it one point at a time and let’s see what we can do. When it got closer, I told them you’ve got to do everything you can to win this set and they did it. I’m really proud of the way they responded.”
The Cougars continued to ride their momentum and forced the Broncos to call a timeout while leading 8-4 early in the final set. Santa Clara fought back and brought the score within two at 11-9. BYU tried to pull away; leading 15-12 but the Broncos tied the score at 15-15, 16-16, 19-19 and 20-20 before the Cougars called a timeout trailing 21-20. The two teams again tied at 23-23, 24-24, 25-25 and 26-26 before Santa Clara took a 27-26 lead. The officials noticed a substitution infraction and gave the point instead to BYU. Hannah Robinson blocked the final attempt from the Broncos to give the Cougars a 28-26 victory. There were 12 ties and five lead changes before BYU was able to pull out the win.
BYU returns to action on Saturday Oct. 12 against San Francisco in the Smith Fieldhouse at 1 p.m. MDT. The match will be broadcast live on BYU Radio.