PROVO, Utah – No. 13 seed BYU women's volleyball advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament for the fourth-consecutive year after sweeping Western Kentucky (25-23, 25-17, 25-20) Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“Congrats to Western Kentucky on a great season," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "I thought it was a great match. I'm super proud of our team and how we played. It was a great couple of days of back-to-back matches. We're excited for the opportunity to move on and keep playing volleyball."
BYU (28-3, 16-2 West Coast Conference) out-hit Western Kentucky (32-4, 15-1 Conference USA) with a .433 clip compared to .245. The Lady Toppers had five aces in the game, but the Cougars bested them in the blocks category 9.5 to 4.
Alexa Gray led all players with 22 kills. She had a .541 clip while also adding five digs and two blocks. Amy Boswell led in the blocks category with six while adding 10 kills in the win. Freshman Lacy Haddock added nine kills and seven digs, which was a team-high. Splitting setting duties, Camry Godfrey Willardson had 23 assists and Alohi Robins-Hardy had 13.
Western Kentucky had the early momentum after starting off the first set with an ace. However, back-to-back kills from Boswell and Haddock put BYU up 6-4 early on. Another ace for the Lady Toppers gave them the 10-9 lead after going on a 4-1 run. A pair of kills from Boswell and Haddock sparked the Cougars to go on a 4-0 rally to take the 16-13 lead. With a kill from Gray tipped off of the blocker, BYU took the first set 25-23. Gray scored three of BYU’s last four points to win the set.
The Lady Toppers started off the second set hot, going on a 4-0 run early to go up 8-5. A stuff block from Cosy Burnett and Whitney Young Howard tied up the game at 8-8. The Cougars started to run away with the set after going on a 7-0 rally that included three blocks by Boswell. The last six points for BYU were scored on kills by Gray and Boswell, with Gray killing the ball four times and Boswell three. Gray came sailing out of the back row for the set-winning kill, handling Western Kentucky 25-17 and taking the 2-0 lead.
BYU jumped out to a quick 2-0 edge in the third set after Western Kentucky overpassed the ball and Gray got a kill off of the opportunity. The teams traded points, continually tying the game back up, until the Lady Toppers went on a 3-0 run to go up 10-7. Howard earned back-to-back points for the Cougars on a block and kill to tie the game back up a 10-10.
Western Kentucky dug themselves into a hole after committing four errors in a row, resulting in points for BYU. An ace from Makenna Santiago and a kill by Boswell capped off the 6-0 run for the Cougars, giving them the 18-12 lead. The Lady Toppers fought back, going on a 3-0 run to get within three, 21-18. However, errors came back to bite them, resulting in three points in a row for the Cougars. Gray finished them off with a cross-court kill, giving BYU the 25-20 win and the sweep.
BYU will face No. 4 seed Nebraska in the regional semifinals in Lexington, Kentucky, on Friday, Dec. 11. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Tickets are available to purchase on the Kentucky Ticket Office website. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU women's volleyball schedule page.
PROVO, Utah – No. 13 seed BYU women’s volleyball will participate in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, hosting Ohio Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse in the first round.
"We're excited for the opportunity to continue playing at the Smith Fieldhouse," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "Our team's excited to play a very good Ohio team. We're looking forward to hosting them and getting in some practices at home this week in preparation for our match on Friday."
The Cougars (26-3, 16-2 West Coast Conference) will play against the Ohio in the first round and the winner will compete against the winner of the match between Arizona and Western Kentucky. BYU and Ohio will play Friday at 7 p.m. MST with Arizona and Western Kentucky facing off right before at 5 p.m. MST on Elaine Michaelis Court. The winners will play Saturday at 7 p.m. MST in the second round.
BYU, Ohio, Arizona and Western Kentucky are part of the Lexington Region. Saturday's winner will advance to the regional semifinals on Dec. 11 at the University of Kentucky.
The last time the Cougars played in the NCAA tournament was in 2014, when they reached the national championship match. BYU has made it to the regional semifinals in each of the past three seasons.
First and second round opponents
- Ohio is 25-7 on the season and 13-3 in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats finished first in the MAC tournament, collecting the automatic bid.
- This will be the first meeting between the two schools in program history.
- Ohio is making its 10th NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2013.
- The Bobcats are led by 3.00 kills per set from Jaime Kosiorek, Abby Gilleland's 10.82 assist average, 5.42 digs per set from Meredith Ashy and Karin Bull's 1.05 blocks per set.
- Arizona ended the regular season 19-13 overall and 9-11 in Pac-12 play. In the Wildcats’ last match, they beat in-state rival Arizona State. Arizona finished seventh in league play and earned an at-large bid.
- BYU faced off against the Wildcats in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, with the Cougars coming away with a 3-1 victory.
- This is Arizona's third-consecutive at-large bid and 27th NCAA tournament appearance.
- The Wildcats are led by Kalei Mau's 4.33 kills per set, a 10.93 assist average from Penina Snuka, 3.39 digs per set from Laura Larson and Halli Amaro's 0.98 blocks per set.
- Western Kentucky is 31-3 overall and 15-1 in Conference USA with its only league loss coming against Rice. They finished first in their conference to receive the automatic bid.
- The Cougars have never faced the Hilltoppers in school history.
- This is Western Kentucky's second-consecutive and ninth overall NCAA tournament berth.
- The Hilltoppers are led by Alyssa Cavanaugh's 3.30 kills per set, 11.20 asissts per set from Jessica Lucas, a 3.82 dig average from Georgia O'Connell and Noelle Langenkamp's 0.85 blocks per set.
Four teams from the WCC earned spots in the NCAA tournament. BYU received the automatic bid and Loyola Marymount, San Diego and Santa Clara earned at-large bids.
Six of BYU’s opponents this season made it into the NCAA tournament. Besides conference opponents, Southern California, Purdue and North Carolina have all earned spots in the tournament. BYU is 6-3 against teams that will play in the tournament this year.
Friday's BYU match against Ohio will be broadcast live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio. Should BYU advance to the second round, that match would also be broadcast live on BYUtv. Friday's match between Arizona and Western Kentucky will be streamed live on TheW.tv. If BYU fails to advance past the first round, the second round match would also be streamed live on TheW.tv. Links to live stats for each match can be found on the BYU women's volleyball schedule page.
Tickets can be purchased on the BYU ticket website, with Full Session Passes available from the $10-$15 price range for both days. Students with ROC passes can get into the match for $1. Individual day passes go on sale Friday, Dec. 4, at 9 a.m. MST.