OKLAHOMA CITY- Jennifer Hamson and Alexa Gray combined for 41 kills to lead the No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball team over No. 2-seed Texas in a four-set thriller (25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 26-24) to advance to the NCAA tournament national finals on Thursday night.
"Hats off to Texas for an outstanding season, for being in the position to play for a national title," head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "I'm just enjoying every minute with these kids. There's a few of them that don't want this season to end. I'll keep rolling with them as long as they want to keep rolling. We were down a few points and came back - there was some negative there - but right now that's not my concern. I'm honored to be a part of these kids' success."
Hamson finished the night with 22 kills, 10 digs and seven blocks with Gray adding 19 kills on a .421 clip and a solo block. Tambre Nobles contributed 11 kills, 12 digs and four blocks on the night while Amy Boswell finished with a game-high eight blocks to go along with three kills.
BYU finished with a .209 hitting clip, while Texas finished with a .162 clip. There were a total of 46 ties and 21 lead changes in the four sets.
Texas got off to a quick 2-0 start in the first set until Young’s kill tied it back at two apiece. The Cougars and Longhorns went into a back-and-forth battle until a 4-1 run by Texas gave it a 15-12 lead. BYU answered back with a 3-0 run that included kills by Nobles and Hamson and a block by Boswell and Nobles to tie it back at 15-15. Gray went on a solo 3-0 run with two kills and a solo block to give BYU a 19-18 lead. The two teams continued to trade points until the game was tied at 22 when Hamson scored the last three BYU points to take the set 25-23.
Gray started off the second set with a kill with Hamson contributing two kills of her own to give BYU a 3-1 start. Texas took a quick 7-6 lead until Gray added four kills for BYU to retake a 10-9 lead. Consecutive blocks by Nobles and Young capped a 5-0 BYU run to extend its lead 14-9. The Cougars maintained their lead with a string of blocks and kills with Gray’s kill giving BYU set point to take it 25-16.
Despite a 4-2 start by BYU, the Longhorns reeled off a 4-0 run to take a 7-5 lead to start the third set. Tia Withers Welling made her second ace of the set to give the Cougars a 12-11 lead. After Nobles tied the game back at 17 apiece, Texas took the third set 25-17 after scoring the last eight points of the set.
Following a 4-2 start by BYU, the Cougars and Longhorns traded points with Nobles’ roll shot and Texas' error giving the Cougars a three-point lead at 15-12. Hamson’s kill ended a 4-0 Texas run and was followed by BYU’s defense with three consecutive blocks, including a solo block by Boswell, to maintain a 19-16 lead. Texas reeled off a 6-1 run to retake a 22-20 lead, but was answered by Hamson’s kill and a block by Hamson and Young to tie it at 22 apiece. The game was tied back at 24 apiece, but was ended on consecutive kills by Hamson to take the fourth set 26-24.
The Cougars advance to the NCAA tournament national finals to face No. 5-seed Penn State on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CST at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 with links to live stats and a video feed found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.
No. 12 Cougars head to Oklahoma City for Final Four
PROVO, Utah – No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball travels to Oklahoma City this week to play in the national semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
The Cougars will first face off against No. 2-seed Texas. With a win, BYU would advance to play either No. 1-seed Stanford or No. 5-seed Penn State.
Last week, the Cougars won a four-set thriller against No. 6-seed Florida State before sweeping No. 14-seed Nebraska to advance out of the Seattle regional.
No. 2 Texas
- BYU faces off against the Longhorns Thursday at 6 p.m. CST at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
- The Cougars lead the overall series 9-6, but Texas won the last matchup in a sweep during the 2008 season.
- The Longhorns are led by 3.28 kills per set from Haley Echerman, a 5.95 assist average from Chloe Collins, Cat McCoy’s 3.76 dig average and 1.58 blocks per set from Sara Hattis.
No. 1 Stanford
- Should BYU advance to the championship match, the Cougars would face either Stanford or Penn State Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CST.
- The Cardinal lead the overall series 8-4, including a four-set win in the last matchup in 2007.
- Stanford is led by Inky Ajanaku’s 3.52 kill average, 12.11 assists per set from Madi Bugg, Kyle Gilbert’s 4.75 digs per set and a 1.21 block average from Merete Lutz.
No. 5 Penn State
- Penn State and BYU have faced each other 10 previous times. The Nittany Lions hold a 6-4 edge in the overall series history.
- The Cougars fell to Penn State in the last meeting during the regional finals of the NCAA tournament in the 2007 season.
- The Nittany Lions are paced by 3.21 kills per set from Ali Frantti, 11.53 assists from Micha Hancock, a 3.66 dig average from Dominique Gonzalez and Haleigh Washington’s 1.24 blocks per set.
Thursday’s match against Texas will be broadcast live on ESPN2. The national finals on Saturday will also be broadcast on ESPN2. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page when they become available.
Tickets for both matches can be purchased on the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship page. Fans can purchase all-session, single match and group tickets.