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Nate Slack | Posted: 31 Mar 2021 | Updated: 21 Apr 2021
Nate Slack

No. 14 BYU claims 2020-21 WCC title with sweep of Santa Clara

2020-21 WVB WCC Champions
Video file

PROVO, Utah — No. 14 BYU women's volleyball completed its second sweep of Santa Clara (25-18, 25-16, 25-9) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday to clinch its seventh West Coast Conference title since joining the league in 2011.

“I'm really happy for, and proud of, our team,” said BYU head coach Heather Olmstead. “They knew the plan, they stuck with the plan and they believed. I'm really proud that we were able to win the conference today and be headed to the tournament.”

The Cougars finish the 2020-21 regular season with a stellar overall record of 16-1 while going 15-1 conference play to claim the outright conference championship. This year's conference title is Olmstead’s fifth in six years as BYU's head coach. As the conference champions, the Cougars automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament and will ride a nine-match win streak to the tournament site in Omaha, Nebraska.

Senior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon led the way with 12 kills on a .500 clip, also adding four digs and an ace. Senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg finished the afternoon with nine kills with an exceptional .643 hitting percentage while totaling a team-high eight blocks.

Sophomore setter Whitney Bower finished with a double-double of 31 assists and 10 digs. Freshman libero Madi Allen led the team with 11 digs and added five assists.

BYU (16-1, 15-1 WCC) ended the regular season with its best hitting percentage performance of the year, finishing with a blistering .453. The Cougars only tallied five attack errors on the day, marking only the seventh time in the rally era a BYU team has had five or fewer attack errors in a single match.

The Cougars outblocked Santa Clara (5-11, 5-11 WCC) 10-2 while holding the Broncos to a season-low hitting percentage of .052.

Final Box Score

After exchanging points to start the set, BYU took its first two-point lead, 6-4, off a kill by Ballard-Nixon. The Broncos answered with a four-point run to lock the score up at 8-all. Three consecutive attack errors by Santa Clara helped spark a 5-1 run by the Cougars, forcing a Bronco timeout. A long rally won by Santa Clara brought the Broncos back within three, but BYU never let it get any closer as three kills by Ballard-Nixon helped the Cougars win the first set, 25-18.

BYU charged out to a 6-2 lead, highlighted with aces by freshman middle blocker Leilani Dodson and sophomore defensive specialist Grace Wee. Kills by sophomore opposite Kate Grimmer and Ballard-Nixon made the score 9-4, forcing a Santa Clara timeout. Eschenberg contributed to a pair of blocks and added to kill to give the Cougars a seven-point advantage, 19-12. BYU closed the set with another 6-2 run, capped off with a block by Ballard-Nixon and Eschenberg, to give the Cougars the second game, 25-16.

After falling behind 3-1 to start the set, consecutive blocks by Grimmer and Eschenberg fueled a 10-1 run to give BYU an 11-4 lead. Ballard-Nixon connected on three kills and dropped an ace to extend the Cougars' advantage to 21-6. Eschenberg tallied her eighth and ninth kills of the day to help BYU claim the set, 25-9, and the WCC title.

The Cougars will find out who they will face in the NCAA Tournament during the Selection Show on Sunday, April 4 at 2 p.m. MDT on ESPNU. The tournament will feature 48 teams and is slated to begin Wednesday, April 14. The entire tournament will be held in Omaha, Nebraska.


Braden Taylor | Posted: 29 Mar 2021 | Updated: 12 Apr 2021
Braden Taylor

No. 14 BYU to close out regular season at home against Santa Clara

WVB vs Santa Clara Preview Graphic

PROVO, Utah – No. 14 BYU women’s volleyball will conclude the 2020-21 regular season March 30-31 with a pair of home matches against Santa Clara at the Smith Fieldhouse.

Both matches are scheduled to start at 1 p.m. MDT and will be broadcast on and the BYUtv App.

BYU Match Notes

No. 14 BYU Cougars (14-1, 13-1 WCC)

  • BYU rose one spot in the weekly AVCA national poll to No. 14, marking the eighth week this year the team has been ranked in the top 15
  • The Cougars moved up to No. 1 in the WCC standings last week with a 13-1 record (.929 win percentage) and can clinch the league title if they win both of their matches against Santa Clara
  • Senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg repeated as WCC Defensive Player of the Week after averaging 2.67 blocks across six sets (16 total), helping BYU outblock Saint Mary’s 21-8 while holding the Gaels to a .110 hitting percentage
  • BYU ranks among the top 10 nationally in three major statistical categories: No. 2 in assists per set (13.78), No. 7 in hitting percentage (.304) and No. 7 in kills per set (14.61)
  • Eschenberg ranks No. 9 in the NCAA Division I in hitting percentage (.454) and No. 12 in blocks per set (1.48), leading the WCC in both categories
  • Sophomore setter Whitney Bower is 17th in the NCAA with an average of 10.98 assists per set

Series Information

  • This year’s season series was rescheduled for this week after being previously scheduled for Feb. 2-3 and being postponed due to Santa Clara delaying its season two weeks
  • BYU leads the all-time series 15-4, including nine straight victories
  • Under Heather Olmstead, the Cougars are 9-1, including 5-0 at home, against the Broncos

Santa Clara Broncos (5-9, 5-9 WCC)

  • Santa Clara is currently eighth in the WCC standings
  • The Broncos lead the league and rank No. 19 in the NCAA Division I with 1.88 aces per set
  • Sophia Tulino leads the WCC and ranks 41st nationally with .46 aces per set (24 total)
  • Julia Sangiacomo is second in the conference with 4.79 points per set (No. 36 in the NCAA) and 11.58 attacks per set (No. 34 in the NCAA)

Broadcast Info – Tuesday, March 30

Broadcast Info – Wednesday, March 31