Cougars grab season-opening sweep of Rider
PROVO, Utah — No. 10 BYU women’s volleyball opened the 2022 season with a 3-0 sweep (25-10, 25-17, 25-16) of the Rider Broncs at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday afternoon.
“Today is a day we’ve been waiting for all off-season, so it was really fun to go out there and get a win to start the season on the right note,” BYU middle blocker Whitney Llarenas said. “We had good energy from everyone on the court and on the bench, and being back in the Fieldhouse just amplified that.”
Junior outside hitter Erin Livingston and Lllarenas lead BYU with nine and eight kills respectively as the Cougars carded 41 kills while hitting .405 in the three-set sweep. The Cougars tallied eight service aces, 35 digs and seven blocks in the season-opening victory.
“Our passes and sets were spot-on today, which made it easy for us to be assertive and put the ball away,” Llarenas said.
The senior from Bountiful hit .500 with eight kills on 12 attempts and three blocks in her sixth start as a Cougar.
Setter Whitney Bower carded 28 assists and six kills on 10 swings in her first start of the 2022 campaign. The senior from Nampa, Idaho, also recorded two service aces and six digs.
Livingston recorded the first point of the season to give the Cougars the early lead. Whitney Bower recorded back-to-back service aces before a Llarenas kill gave BYU a 5-1 lead.
After a service error, Llarenas carded her second kill of the set followed by a Kelsey Knudsen ace to extend the BYU lead to 8-4. Heather Gneiting and Whitney Bower recorded back-to-back kills to spark a 12-3 Cougar run leading to a Rider timeout with BYU leading 21-8.
Freshman outside hitter Eden Bower recorded her first kill as a Cougar to give BYU its first set point of the match, which Kate Grimmer put away to win the set 25-10.
Grimmer started set two right where she left off by blocking the Rider attack for the first BYU point. After BYU took a 4-1 lead, the Broncs scored four of the next six to climb within one. The Cougars took the next three points to gain a four-point cushion early in the set.
Rider again pulled within one, at 12-11, but the Cougars bounced back winning five of the next six to open up a 17-12 advantage. After a service error, Eden Bower and Gneiting recorded kills before Kate Prior checked in for the first time as a Cougar and made an immediate impact with a solo stuff block in the middle.
With the set at 22-15, Livingston recorded her seventh kill of the match before a Broncs error gave the Cougars match point. Rider fought off one match point before Grimmer put away her sixth kill of the match to give BYU a two-set advantage.
After falling behind 2-1 early in set three, Eden and Whitney Bower scored back-to-back points to tie the set before an Aria McComber service ace and a Gneiting and Livingston block vaulted the Cougars into the lead, 5-3.
After a BYU error brought the Broncs within one, BYU rattled off six-straight points to take an 11-4 lead midway through the third.
The Cougars took control of the third set as they extended the lead to 19-8 with kills from Llarenas, Grimmer and Elyse Stowell, blocks from Sophia Callahan, Llarenas and a service ace from Knudsen.
BYU will return to the court for its second game of the day as they take on the Duke Blue Devils at 7 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv and the BYUtv app. Fans will need tickets for the 7 p.m. contest against the Blue Devils.
Cougars begin season with dōTERRA Classic
PROVO, Utah — No. 10 BYU women’s volleyball will begin its 2022 regular season this week, hosting the dōTERRA Classic on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26-27 at the Smith Fieldhouse.
The Cougars will welcome Rider, Duke and Washington State to Provo for the four-team round robin tournament, playing Rider and Duke on Friday and Washington State on Saturday.
BYU returns 12 players from last season's roster, with seven having significant playing experience at BYU. The Cougars also welcome seven newcomers, including two upperclassmen transfers who started at Division 1 schools in Kelsey Knudsen and Abby Taylor.
Head coach Heather Olmstead begins her eighth year at the helm for BYU, recording an .896 win percentage in that time with a record of 191-22, never losing more than five games in a single season. Beginning the year ranked No. 10 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll, Olmstead's teams have never been ranked lower than No. 17 during her tenure.
- First matchup between BYU and Rider in any sport
- The Broncs were 19-12 in 2021, with a 14-4 record in the MAAC
- On a seven-game win streak, Rider advanced to the 2021 MAAC Championship match before falling to Fairfield
- Head coach Jeff Rotondo is in his fourth season with the Broncs, posting a 41-33 record since 2019
- Duke played an exhibition match against Davidson on Saturday, beating the Wildcats 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 25-23, 16-25) at Cameron Indoor Stadium
- The Blue Devils return nine letter-winners from last season and welcome eight newcomers
- Duke was 16-13 overall in 2021, going 7-11 in ACC competition
- Head coach Jolene Nagel begins her 24th season with the Blue Devils, boasting a 464-242 record during that time
- Duke and BYU last played on Aug. 24-25, 2018, in Durham. The Cougars swept the first matchup and won the second, 3-1. BYU leads the all-time series, 4-0.
Washington State (0-0)
- Washington State went 20-12 overall last season, going 13-7 in Pac-12 play
- The Cougars made the NCAA Tournament last season, sweeping Northern Colorado in the First Round before losing at No. 5 Baylor in the Second Round
- Head coach Jen Greeny enters her 12th season at Wazzu, going 186-157 in 11 years
- Washington State and BYU last played on Aug. 31, 2002. Wazzu swept the matchup, 3-0. BYU leads the all-time series in the battle of the Cougars, 5-2-1.
|Duke vs. Washington State||Friday, August 26||10am MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Rider @ BYU||Friday, August 26||Noon MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Washington State vs. Rider||Friday, August 26||5pm MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Duke @ BYU||Friday, August 26||7pm MDT||BYUtv/BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Rider vs. Duke||Saturday, August 27||4pm MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Washington State @ BYU||Saturday, August 27||7pm MDT||BYUtv/BYUtv App||Live Stats|
The morning and afternoon games on both Friday and Saturday will be non-ticketed and open seating. Fans will need tickets for the 7 p.m. BYU games against Duke and Washington State.