BYU beat Utah in five sets to take the Deseret First Duel in women's volleyball. (Photo by Bella Torgerson/BYU Photo)
SALT LAKE CITY – Sophomore Alexa Gray led BYU women’s volleyball to a five-set (25-23, 17-25, 25-14, 20-25, 15-12) victory over in-state rival Utah to claim the Deseret First Duel Tuesday.
"It was a gutsy win for us," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Hats off to Utah for a great match. We knew to keep working on our serve and pass. I felt that broke down too much at times. This was a team win and showed a lot of heart from all of our members. Hats off to our staff, they prepped us well."
Gray had 15 kills on 34 attempts to hit .265 in the win. Sophomore Camry Godfrey contributed 37 assists to go along with 18 digs from libero Tia Withers Welling. Senior Kathryn LeCheminant added seven blocks to lead the team on defense.
The Cougars (7-3) and Utes (10-1) traded points early in the first set, with a block and two kills by LeCheminant allowing BYU to pull ahead 6-3. Utah quickly countered on a 4-0 run to take a 7-6 lead from a pair of Cougar attack errors. The score remained consistently even from there, with neither team taking a dominant lead. BYU took a 15-14 advantage at the media timeout from a Tambre Haddock kill. The Cougars had set point for the first time after going through 18 ties with the Utes. Haddock won the match for BYU 25-23 on a kill.
Utah got off to a quick 7-2 start in the second set from a series of kills that forced Coach Olmstead to take a timeout. The Cougars went off on their own 4-1 streak following the break to bring BYU within two points at 8-6. The Utes were able to maintain their composure, though, and take a 15-9 lead from a block. The Cougars couldn’t find an answer to their scoring after a kill by Ute Makenzi Moea’i gave Utah its largest lead at 22-13. BYU forced a trio of Ute set points before Utah was able to finally take the set 25-17.
An Amy Boswell kill started things off for the Cougars in the third set by putting the first points on the board. Godfrey kept the gas on for BYU with a kill that gave the Cougars an 8-5 advantage. BYU was able to maintain a comfortable four-point lead through the majority of the set until a pair of Gray kills gave the Cougars a double-digit advantage at 24-14. A Gray block ended the set with a win for BYU at 25-14 after a 7-0 Cougar run.
The fourth set opened up on a 5-1 run for the Utes. Utah continued to be relentless on the attack, giving the Utes an 11-2 lead that forced a BYU timeout. After an 8-0 Utah run, the Cougars were finally able to put a pair of points on the board from a Haddock kill and Hannah Robison ace at 13-5. The Utes maintained a fairly consistent 10-point advantage until BYU went on an 8-2 run to cut the lead to four at 24-20. The Cougar scoring run proved to take place too late as the Utes took the fourth set 25-20.
BYU started off strong in the fifth and final set, taking an early 3-1 advantage. Utah came back to take the lead at 6-5 after another Moea’i kill. The Cougars then took a three-point lead after a Ute ball-handling error at 11-8. Utah came within two points of BYU at 13-11 after a massive double-block. A Boswell kill closed out the match win for the Cougars at 15-12.
Utah falls to 10-1, with BYU handing the Utes their first loss of the season.
BYU returns to the Smith Fieldhouse Friday to begin conference play against No. 2 San Diego. The match, which will be televised live to a national audience on BYUtv, begins at 7 p.m. MDT. Links to live stats as well as an online streaming version of the match can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.