No. 7 BYU sweeps Utah State to begin Nike Invitational
PROVO, Utah — No. 7 BYU women's volleyball improved to 4-0 on the season with a 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 25-14) sweep of Utah State on Thursday night in game one of the BYU Nike Invitational.
The Cougars are now 52-15 all-time against the Aggies. The BYU defense held Utah State to a -0.037 hitting percentage, with senior middle blocker Heather Gneiting contributing to seven of BYU’s 11 blocks.
Junior outside hitter Erin Livingston led the Cougar attack with 12 kills. She was joined by graduate senior middle blocker Whitney Llarenas (nine kills) and Gneiting (six kills) to help BYU to a .365 hitting clip, including .579 in set one. Senior opposite hitter Kate Grimmer had seven digs, with senior setter Whitney Bower registering 27 assists.
Aria McComber’s service helped BYU start the set on a 7-0 run. The senior libero had an ace while forcing four errors and two free balls that were killed off by Livingston.
A Utah State timeout at 6-0 helped slow down the Cougars, with the teams trading points until the BYU lead stood at 11-5. Strong service then helped BYU go on another run, this time with Grimmer behind the line. She had two aces to help BYU go on a 5-0 run, good for a 16-5 lead.
The Aggies gave up another run just three points later, with four Cougar kills—including two of Livingston’s set-high five—and a Llarenas and Livingston block leading to a 6-0 stretch. It was Livingston again who put the set away at 25-9 with a kill a few points later.
Defense helped the Cougars start off the second set with another lead. Consecutive blocks, one by Gneiting and Grimmer, the other by Gneiting and Eden Bower, saw BYU up 8-3 early. From there, Livingston continued to lead the attack, registering three straight kills and adding a fourth after a Utah State point.
The 17-8 lead proved insurmountable, despite Utah State going on a 4-1 run to only trail by six for most of the rest of the set. Two Aggie errors ultimately saw the set end at 25-17 for BYU.
Livingston had five more kills in the set, while Gneiting added four. Five different Cougars also lead the team’s defensive effort by registering blocks.
The teams traded points to 4-4, with Utah State’s leads during that stretch the only time the Cougars trailed in the match. BYU then went on another 6-0 run, with Gneiting and Eden Bower both registering a block and kill apiece during the stretch.
With the score at 14-8 later in the set, BYU ran up to a 21-11 advantage behind five kills from four different players and a Gneiting ace. Llarenas had two of her nine kills on the night during the run, which ended with her adding a block as well.
Defense continued to lead BYU through the rest of set three, which included five blocks from Gneiting. The set’s seventh block came from Eden Bower, which sealed a 25-14 set and match victory. The Aggies were held to -0.217 hitting in set three.
The Cougars return to the Smith Fieldhouse tomorrow, Sept. 2, at 7:00 p.m. MDT against Cincinnati. The match will be broadcast on BYUtv and the BYUtv app, with fans needing tickets to attend in-person.
Cougars prepare for BYU Nike Invitational
PROVO, Utah — Coming off a 3-0 opening weekend, No. 7 BYU women's volleyball readies to host Utah State, Cincinnati and No. 10 Pittsburgh in the BYU Nike Invitational at the Smith Fieldhouse this week.
The Cougars moved up from No. 10 to No. 7 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll, the association announced on Monday. Pitt, one of the three teams that BYU will host this week was ranked No. 10 in this week's poll.
15 of BYU's 19 players got to play in the last week's season opening-sweep of Rider, including freshman middle blocker Kate Prior, who recorded her first career block, and freshman outside hitter Eden Bower, who tallied five kills in the match.
Senior middle blockers Heather Gneiting (15) and Whitney Llarenas (9) both set carer-highs in kills as the Cougars beat Duke in four sets. Eden Bower then set a new carer-high in kills with 10 against Washington State on Saturday night.
Utah State (2-0, 0-0 MWC)
- The Aggies went 2-0 in the Utah State Invitational last weekend, including a 3-1 win over No. 12 UCLA
- Through two matches, Utah State has four players with double-digit kills on the season: Kylee Stokes (29), Tatum Stall (21), Emilee Turner (21) and Kennedi Boyd (15)
- Coached by Rob Neilson, the Aggies are 29-19 during his three-year tenure
- BYU leads the all-time series with Utah State, 51-15. The Cougars last played the Aggies on September 13, 2011, sweeping Utah State, 3-0.
- This will be the first time the Cougars play the Aggies, BYU head coach Heather Olmstead's alma mater, during her time at the helm
Cincinnati (1-2, 0-0 AAC)
- The Bearcats travel to Provo after going 1-2 during their opening weekend, beating Florida State after falling to Illinois State and Dayton
- Sophomore middle blocker Abbey Walker leads Cincinnati with 41 kills through three matches. Walker is one of five Bearcat hitters with double-digit kills and one of four with 20+ kills.
- Senior libero Payton Frederick and Walker were both named to the American Athletic Conference (AAC) weekly honor roll on Monday, Aug. 29
- Head coach Molly Alvey is in her 11th season with Cincinnati, posting a 165-138 record since 2012
- Friday's match between the Cougars and Bearcats will mark the first time the two teams meet in volleyball
No. 10 Pitt (2-1, 0-0 ACC)
- The Panthers went 2-1 in the Texas A&M Invitational last weekend, dropping their season opener to then No. 25 San Diego in five sets before sweeping both Hawai'i and Texas A&M
- Valeria Vasquez Gomez (34) and Juliana Dalton (33) lead Pittsburgh in kills and are two of six Panther hitters with double-digit kills through week one
- In his tenth season as Pitt head coach, Dan Fisher boasts a 229-59 record
- The Cougars and Panthers have met just twice on the volleyball court, splitting the all-time series. Pitt won last season's matchup in Pittsburgh, 3-1.
|Utah State @ BYU||Thursday, September 1||7pm MDT||BYUtv/BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Cincinnati vs. Pitt||Friday, September 2||10am MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Pitt vs. Utah State||Friday, September 2||5pm MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Cincinnati @ BYU||Friday, September 2||7pm MDT||BYUtv/BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Utah State vs. Cincinnati||Saturday, September 3||4pm MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Pitt @ BYU||Saturday, September 3||7pm MDT||BYUtv/BYUtv App||Live Stats|
Fans will need tickets to attend the three BYU matches against Utah State, Cincinnati and Pitt. The non-BYU games on both Friday and Saturday will be non-ticketed and open seating.