Livingston leads volleyball to sweep of UVU in non-conference finale
PROVO, Utah — Erin Livingston notched a team-high 10 kills and helped No. 15 BYU women's volleyball close out its non-conference slate with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-20) win over Utah Valley at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
"I loved the way that we prepared and played this week," said BYU head coach Heather Olmstead. "I liked how we executed both tonight and at Utah on Thursday. It was great to bounce-back from those tough road games last week."
Livingston’s .381 hitting performance was complemented by nine kills and clip of .562 from Eden Bower. Heather Gneiting continued to show her dynamic play as she recorded eight kills to go along with three block assists and a solo block. Whitney Bower powered the Cougar attack with 30 assists as well as five kills.
Kate Grimmer led the team with 11 digs for the match, while Whitney Bower, Aria McComber and Kelsey Knudsen pitched in a combined 23 digs. As a team, BYU posted 43 kills to UVU’s 32. The Cougars hit .316, while holding the Wolverines to .163.
BYU controlled the match from start to finish, allowing Olmstead to play a wide variety of personnel. Two freshman, Hannah Billeter and Briley Decker saw their first-career action for the Cougars on Saturday night. Freshman Kate Prior also got in on the action, recording a kill and block assist.
The Cougars and Wolverines went back-and-forth early, until two blocks from Gneiting and two aces from Alyssa Montoya helped spring BYU lose on an 8-0 run. A Whitney Llarenas kill expanded BYU’s lead to 10 at 18-8. Whitney Bower piled it on as she dropped the ball over the net for her second kill of the night and pushing the Cougars’ lead to a match-high 19-9.
During a key, crowd-pleasing sequence, Bower and Knudsen played the plumbers, digging away the UVU attacks and opening the way for an Elyse Stowell kill that gave the Cougars a 20-11 advantage. Kate Grimmer hammered the ball down the line with a fierce kill that put the set away 25-16 in the Cougars’ favor. BYU set the tone early with 14 kills, three aces and just one service error in the opening set.
The Cougars led for the entirety of the set after an unrelenting barrage of kills gave them eight unanswered points. Livingston left her mark on the match in the early moments of the second set as she recorded four of the team’s first eight.
The BYU defense came up big with combined blocks from Llarenas and Grimmer as well as Gneiting and Eden Bower. Moments later, Billeter came in and assisted a kill from Whitney Bower. Llarenas followed that play as she wound up and sent the ball smashing onto UVU’s side for a 20-11 lead.
The Bower sisters would finish off the set with successive kills as BYU cruised to a 25-15 win. As a team, BYU combined for 14 kills on just three errors, hitting .333 with six blocks in set two.
The Cougars weathered a feisty third set from the Wolverines. UVU would trim BYU’s lead to two at 9-7 and 12-10 before making one last run that cut the Cougar lead to 21-18. Four BYU errors kept the Wolverines close.
The Cougars overcame the errors with kills from Whitney Bower, Gneiting and Stowell. Eden Bower would slam the door shut on the set with two consecutive kills that gave BYU the 25-20 victory. The third set saw BYU record 15 kills to three errors and hit at a match-high .353.
BYU opens West Coast Conference play with two home games next week. The Cougars will host Loyola Marymount on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. MDT and then face-off against No. 22 Pepperdine at 1 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Smith Fieldhouse. Both games can be watched live on BYUtv/BYUtv App.
15th-ranked BYU to host Utah Valley on Saturday
PROVO, Utah — After three matches away from the Smith Fieldhouse, No. 15 BYU women’s volleyball returns home to host cross-town foe Utah Valley on Saturday.
The Cougars pulled out a four-set win over in-state rival Utah on Thursday night, recording a season-high 76 digs in the two hour and 25-minute battle. Also beating Utah State during the BYU Nike Invitational, BYU welcomes the reigning WAC champion Wolverines looking to improve to 3-0 against local competition this season.
No. 15 BYU vs. UVU
Erin Livingston continues to pace the 15th-ranked Cougars with a team-high 128 kills. The junior outside hitter tied her career-high of 20 kills, which she set against No. 10 Pitt two weeks ago, on Thursday at Utah. Middle blockers Heather Gneiting and Whitney Llarenas have 78 and 71 kills, respectively.
Whitney Bower has recorded 310 assists on the year, averaging an even 10 assists per set. The senior setter also leads the team in digs, with 81. Kate Grimmer is just behind, with 76 digs, followed by Kelsey Knudsen, who has totaled 73.
Llarenas and Gneiting have been a force to be reckoned with in the middle, putting down 35 and 33 total blocks, respectively. Gneiting leads the team with six solo blocks, and Grimmer has added 22 total blocks of her own.
BYU head coach Heather Olmstead is 6-0 against the Wolverines during her tenure, going 2-0 in Provo and 4-0 in Orem. The two teams have not met in Provo since 2019.
Utah Valley (5-5, 0-0 WAC)
- After going 2-0 at Harvard and Northeastern last weekend, the Wolverines have dropped two five-set matches at Utah State and to Weber State this week
- Highlighted by the pair of wins in Massachusetts last week, UVU was riding a five-match win streak after losing three-straight to open season, including to No. 23 Kansas and at No. 22 Utah
- A part of those early season wins and losses, the Wolverines were swept by West Coast Conference opponent Loyola Marymount in Salt Lake City, and beat Cal in four sets at home
- Tori Dorius and Kazna Tanuvasa lead UVU in kills, landing 119 and 96, respectively. Bryton Nixon paces the Wolverines with 145 digs, while Natalie Palmer (198) and Abbie Miller (185) approach the 200-assist mark on the season.
- Jules Fink (37) and Makayla Broadbent (32) have each sent back 30+ blocks this season, and four UVU players have recorded 11 or more service aces: Palmer (13), Tanuvasa (13), Miller (12) and Avery Shewell (11)
- Head coach Sam Atoa is in his 24th season with UVU, going 318-247 since the Wolverines began competing at the Division I level in 2003
- BYU leads the all-time series with UVU, 17-0. The Cougars swept the Wolverines last season and beat them in four sets during BYU’s lone non-conference match of the spring 2020-21 season. Both of those matches were held at UVU.
Concluding the non-conference slate with Utah Valley, BYU will begin its final season of WCC competition next week, hosting Loyola Marymount in the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv app.