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ST. LOUIS – Senior Alexa Gray led No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball to a three-set (25-17, 25-11, 25-14) victory against Saint Louis Friday night at Chaifetz Arena to begin play in the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic.
“Our focus and energy was great from the start tonight,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “We were able to execute our game plan well, and Camry distributed the ball really well throughout the match.”
Gray led the Cougars with 13 kills on a .296 clip to go along with four digs. Senior Camry Godfrey Willardson had 35 assists and junior Whitney Young Howard had a team-high six blocks. Senior Ciara Parker collected a match-high 19 digs while freshman Veronica Jones added eight kills. Additionally, junior Amy Boswell had nine kills on a .600 clip to go along with five blocks while sophomore Cosy Burnett contributed 10 kills and three blocks in the win.
BYU (3-1) got off to a strong 4-0 lead in the first set with the help of a pair of Gray kills and a block. Saint Louis (1-4) struggled defensively in the early part of the set as a Burnett kill gave the Cougars a 10-4 advantage, forcing a Billiken timeout. BYU’s blocking was an asset in the first set, as Boswell’s fourth block put the Cougars up by eight, 16-8. Saint Louis followed with a 4-1 run to bring the Billikens back within five, down 17-12. The two teams traded points from there as a 5-2 Saint Louis rally brought it within three, 20-17. The run proved too late as BYU scored the next five points, taking the set 25-17 on a Gray kill.
The second set began with an even 2-2 draw. The Cougars then used a 4-1 run, capped off by a Gray kill, to go up 6-3. BYU continued to stay ahead 13-6 following a Howard and Jones block, which forced the Billikens to take their first timeout of the set. Back-to-back Boswell service aces then helped the Cougars go on an 8-0 rally to take a 19-6 advantage. BYU cruised from there, as a Boswell kill sealed the 25-11 set two win.
Three more kills from Gray helped the Cougars get off to a 7-1 lead to start the third set. Burnett then helped with three kills of her own to put BYU up 11-2. Saint Louis followed with a 4-1 run to bring the Billikens back within six, down 12-6. A Howard and Willardson block then extended the Cougars’ advantage to double-digits, leading 18-8, before forcing a Saint Louis timeout. The teams went back-and-forth from there until a Burnett kill ended the set and match in BYU’s favor, 25-14.
The Cougars return to action Saturday at noon CDT against No. 24 Purdue before taking on Arkansas-Pine Bluff later in the day. An audio stream of the Purdue match will be available courtesy of the Boilermakers. Links to live stats as well as the audio stream can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.
PROVO, Utah – No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball hits the road again this week for its second-consecutive tournament, the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic, hosted at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.
The Cougars (2-1) will first take on host Saint Louis on Friday, followed by No. 24 Purdue and Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.
- BYU opens the tournament with the nightcap match against host Saint Louis Friday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. CDT.
- The Cougars won the only other matchup between the two schools 3-1 back in 2003.
- The Billikens are 1-2 on the young season, winning a four-set decision against Southeast Missouri State and falling to the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Arkansas State.
- To gain some perspective, Saint Louis finished the 2014 season 21-10, 9-5 (3rd) A10.
- The Billikens return all six starters and their libero from last season.
No. 24 Purdue
- BYU next plays B1G opponent Purdue Saturday, Sept. 5, at noon CDT.
- The Cougars are 3-1 all-time against the Boilermakers, having won the last decision 3-1 in 2001.
- Purdue is a perfect 3-0 to start the 2015 season, picking up wins last week against VCU, Austin Peay and Ohio.
- The Boilermakers went 22-10, 12-8 (5th) last year, just missing an NCAA tournament at-large bid.
- Purdue returns four starters and its libero to this season’s squad.
- To conclude play in the invitational, BYU plays Arkansas-Pine Bluff for the second neutral-site matchup of the day. The match begins Saturday, Sept. 5, at 4:30 CDT.
- The two squads have never played each other before in their history.
- The Golden Lions have gotten off to a rough start in 2015, holding an 0-3 record after losses last week to Mississippi State, Southern Utah and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
- In 2014, Arkansas-Pine Bluff finished 12-21, 6-2 (2nd in West) SWAC.
- The Golden Lions lost four starters from last year, but return 10 letterwinners to this season.
Friday’s match will be streamed live online by Saint Louis, while Purdue will provide streaming audio for its match against BYU on Saturday. Live stats will be available for all three matches. Links to live stats and the video/audio feeds can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.