No. 4 BYU Sweeps No. 5 Texas to Advance to Final Four
PROVO, Utah – No. 4 BYU women’s volleyball advanced to the third Final Four in program history, sweeping No. 5 seed Texas (25-23, 25-23, 25-21) Saturday night in the Smith Fieldhouse.
“What an incredible environment here tonight,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “I’m so proud of our team for staying the course the entire match.”
Senior Roni Jones-Perry tallied a match-high 25 kills on a .367 clip, including 11 in the second set alone, while also earning three digs and one ace. Junior Mary Lake recorded 17 digs and four assists while Lyndie Haddock-Eppich posted 43 assists and four digs.
“It was a total team effort tonight, but Roni was fabulous; she was so focused and full of energy,” Olmstead added. “Lyndie set a great match and was really composed and Mary played fantastic defense all night and really kept us in some rallies.”
Jones-Perry was named Most Valuable Player of the Regional and Haddock-Eppich, Lake and freshman Heather Gneiting were named to the All-Tournament team.
Click here to view the BYU Photo photo essay of the match and see below for links to BYU's press conference comments and box score of the match.
In front of 5,326 fans, the second-largest home crowd in program history, Texas (23-5) went on an early lead in the first set at 9-5, but BYU (31-1) fought its way back to within one point at 13-12. The two teams battled back and forth until a block by Haddock-Eppich and Gnieting put the Cougars ahead, 21-20. The Cougars maintained the lead culminating in a kill from sophomore Kennedy Eschenberg to finish the set, 25-23.
In the second set, Jones-Perry tallied four straight kills to give the Cougars a 4-3 advantage. Texas rallied from behind, tying the game at 12-12 after scoring three-straight points. BYU tried to pull away after a block by freshman Madelyn Robinson and Eschenberg gave BYU a two-point lead at 17-15, but the Longhorns fought back to tie the score at 20-all. But BYU took control off back-to-back kills from Jones-Perry to put BYU at match point. Texas tacked on three more points, but another kill from Jones-Perry ended the set at 25-23.
The third set again was close throughout the frame. Texas pulled ahead behind a 4-1 run to make the score 15-12, but a kill from senior Lacy Haddock followed by a block from Haddock and Eschenberg again brought the Cougars within one at 15-14. Back-to-back kills from Jones-Perry and Haddock put BYU ahead 23-21, forcing Texas to take a timeout. But the Cougars maintained the lead, finishing off the match two more Jones-Perry kills as BYU won the third set, 25-23.
BYU advances to the NCAA National Championships and will next take the court on Thursday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. CT at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The Cougars will play the No. 1 Stanford. BYU defeated Stanford earlier this year in a 3-2 match in Provo for the Cardinal's only loss this season.
No. 4 Cougars to Host NCAA Regional
PROVO, Utah - No. 4 BYU welcomes No. 5 Texas, Florida and Michigan to the Smith Fieldhouse starting Friday, Dec. 7.
The Cougars (29-1) will play Florida (26-6) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. MT on ESPN3 while Texas (22-4) and Michigan (24-9) will face off earlier in the day at 2 p.m. MT on ESPNU. The winners of each match will then compete the following day at 6 p.m. MT on ESPNU.
Last weekend, BYU defeated Stony Brook and rival Utah in the first two rounds of the tourney to advance to the program's seventh-straight Sweet 16.
This year, however, is unique for BYU – the Cougars are hosting an NCAA Regional for the first time since 1986. BYU is 15-0 at home this season and have won 22 straight dating back to last season; in the NCAA Tournament, BYU has won 19-straight matches dating back to 1994 and are 28-6 overall at home.
BYU is No. 1 in the nation in hitting percentage (.319), No. 2 in opponent hitting percentage (.136) and No. 5 in blocks per set (2.94). The Cougars will face a Florida team that ranks No. 9 in opponent hitting percentage (.156), No. 10 in blocks per set (2.84) and No. 24 in hitting percentage (.259).
Ranked No. 1 for 11-straight weeks in the regular season, the Cougars recently swept the AVCA Region awards, with Roni Jones-Perry winning Player of the Year, Heather Gneiting taking Freshman of the Year and Heather Olmstead claiming Coach of the Year. A program-record six players were named All-Region as well.
The winner of Saturday's match will advance to the NCAA Final Four in Minneapolis on Dec. 13 and 15.