Junior Kayla Walker led BYU with 18 kills in a victory over American to improve the Cougars to 5-0 on the year.
COLLEGE STATION -- A good morning was the order of the day for the No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball team as the Cougars improved to 5-0 on the year with a four-set win over American. The match was the first of two Saturday matches for BYU at the Texas A&M Invitational and went 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-15 in the Cougars’ favor.
“I was very impressed with American,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “It says a lot that we were able to take a good team like the Eagles completely out of their game. We took away their best hitter and did a good job of following instructions and serving tough.”
Junior transfer Kayla Walker led the way for the Cougars with 18 kills on .438 hitting and six blocks. Senior Bryn Porter also reached double-digits with 16 kills and posted her third straight double-double with 10 digs. Sophomore setter Kiana Rogers notched a career-high five kills and tallied her fourth consecutive double-double with 40 assists and 13 digs while Morgan Lloyd (16) and Malia Marquardt (10) also recorded double figures in that category.
American struck first in set one, getting out to a 3-1 lead before the Cougars had a chance to wake up in the 9:30 a.m. match. But wake up they did, going on a 9-3 run to build a 10-6 advantage with three kills from Walker. The Eagles responded to get within two but another run, this time a 6-1 spurt, maintained the Cougar hold on the set. Four straight Eagle points on the tough serve of Rubena Sukaj cut the lead in half but Porter got the sideout with a crosscourt kill to keep American at bay. From there, the two teams traded points to a 22-18 Cougar lead. The Eagles made one last push to get within two points but would come no closer as BYU closed out the set 25-22 with a kill from Marquardt.
Set two began with an identical 3-1 American lead, but BYU was slower to respond in the second frame as the Eagles pushed their advantage to 7-4 before the Cougars put together three straight points to knot the score. However, the story of the set would prove to be Cougar service errors as they could not take the lead at 7-7 or 10-10 after serves into the net. Trailing 19-13, the serve of Rogers sparked a 5-0 BYU run to get within one point but another service error prevented the Cougars from completing the comeback as American went on to take the set, 25-22.
A battle ensued in set three as both teams sought to take the coveted 2-1 set advantage. After two setter dumps from Rogers tied the score at 13-13, American regained the lead with back-to-back scores. However, an Eagle service error on the next ball sparked an 8-0 Cougar run to establish a 21-15 BYU lead. With the set firmly in control, the Cougars pushed to set point at 24-19 after a kill from Porter. American refused to go quietly, scoring four straight points to leave BYU with just one more chance to put the set away, but Walker came up with a powerful crosscourt shot to seal the win.
Sensing victory just around the corner, the Cougars dominated the fourth set, jumping out to a 9-2 lead and never looking back. The advantage stretched to 15-5 before five straight Eagle scores cut it in half, but BYU proved too hot to stop, hitting .310 in the set. The Cougars scored nine of the last 12 points to record a 25-15 set win while holding American to -.030 hitting.
The Texas A&M Invitational will conclude Saturday night with a 6:30 p.m. CT (5:30 p.m. MT) contest between BYU and the host Aggies. The match will be broadcast live on BYU Radio.
Fans can join the official BYU Women’s Volleyball Texting Group by texting “WVB” to 83043. Members of the group will get updates about game times and special promotions.