(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah—The BYU women’s volleyball team heads to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to take on Portland and Gonzaga Saturday and Monday, respectively.
“Portland and Gonzaga are both quality opponents,” BYU head Coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We know their coaches will have the teams prepared for us and we’re doing our part to get ready for them. We have a longer travel period than last week, so we need to be prepared.”
The Cougars (14-5, 3-2) seek to boost confidence and get back in their winning rhythm after falling to No. 20 Pepperdine, who remains the only undefeated team in the league.
The trip will be a homecoming of sorts for freshman defensive specialist Tia Withers, who hails from Beaverton, Ore., just 15 minutes outside of Portland. While playing for Sunset High in Beaverton, Ore., Withers took her team to two third-place finishes in the state championships. Withers has started nine matches in her debut season with the Cougars and recorded 126 digs.
Sophomore opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson leads the Cougars and the WCC with 267 kills (4.11 per set) and is third on the team for total blocks with 72 (1.11 per set). With 106 total blocks (1.63 per set), middle blocker Nicole Warner leads the team and the conference. Warner is currently No. 3 in the nation for blocks per set.
Setter Heather Hannemann totals 664 assists (10.22 per set) on the season with 148 digs and libero Kendalyn Hartsock has recorded 285 digs (4.38 per set), the second highest number of digs in the conference.
Portland is 7-12 on the season and 1-5 in the WCC, with its only conference win coming against San Francisco at home Oct. 1.
At the top of the Pilot offense is Ariel Usher, whose double-figure kills helped Portland to the 3-2 victory against USF. Usher averages 2.57 kills per set. Monica Jordan helps out on offense with 8.30 assists per set and Katie Mardesich and Marissa Plumber cover defense with 2.70 digs and .85 blocks per set, respectively.
Gonzaga (6-11, 0-6) looks to recover from a seven-match losing streak. Its last win came against Niagara Sept. 10, a 3-0 victory.
Laura Day hits 2.47 kills per set to lead the Bulldogs. Libero Kristina Lavrisha falls just behind BYU’s Hartsock in digs, averaging 3.59 for third-most in the league.
The Bulldogs and Pilots will play each other Thursday in Spokane, Wash., prior to the matches against BYU.
BYU will face the Pilots at 1 p.m. PDT Saturday in Portland and Gonzaga at 6 p.m. PDT Monday in Spokane, Wash.
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BYU vs. Portland Notes
BYU vs. Gonzaga Notes