The Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16 after a three-set sweep of No. 11 Hawaii on Saturday. (Photo by BYU Photo)
HONOLULU – Alexa Gray led BYU women’s volleyball in a three-set (25-21, 25-17, 25-13) sweep of No. 11 Hawaii in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Honolulu on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year.
“Hats off to Hawaii and their fans on a great season,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “Our team played a complete match from start to finish. Our middles Kat (LeCheminant) and Whitney (Young) played unreal. Our defense was strong and our outside hitters scored a lot of points for us out at the pins. It's exciting to move on and we look forward to the matchup in Los Angeles. I can't say enough about the work and time our assistants put into our match preparation.”
Gray led the Cougars with 13 kills on 33 attempts to hit a .273 clip, and tied a career high in blocks with seven. Sophomore Ciara Parker had a team-high 15 digs while sophomore Camry Godfrey added 35 assists. Freshman Whitney Young contributed eight blocks, a team-high, to help BYU defensively. Junior Tambre Haddock had her third-straight double-double from 11 kills and 11 digs.
Godfrey gave the Cougars (24-6) their first points of set one with a dump kill. Play was consistent in the first several minutes of the set as both teams traded points. The score was tied from points 1 to 10 until BYU scored three straight to take a 12-10 advantage. That rally was countered by a 5-1 Rainbow Wahine (25-5) run to take the 15-13 lead at the media timeout. The Cougars took their first three-point lead at 20-17 from a Gray kill. Haddock gave BYU set point from consecutive kills and a Hawaii attack error gave the Cougars the first set, 25-21.
The second set began with a 6-1 lead for BYU from the help of a trio of Cougar blocks. From that point, BYU maintained around a five-point advantage until Young contributed three-consecutive blocks to extend the Cougar lead to eight at 16-8. BYU led by as many as 11 points in the second set as the Cougars coasted to a 25-17 set two win, ending with two straight Gray kills.
Both teams exchanged points early in the third set until BYU went on a 5-0 run to take the 8-3 advantage. The Rainbow Wahine were forced to take their final timeout of the set after consecutive points put the Cougars ahead 12-6. Following the timeout, BYU had a 5-1 rally that gave the Cougars an eight-point lead at 17-9. Hawaii struggled to find its offense and defend BYU’s as the Cougars easily took the third set to sweep the Rainbow Wahine, 25-13.
The win advances BYU to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament where the Cougars will face No. 6 USC on Friday. Links to live stats and video can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.