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Balanced attack leads No. 17 Cougars past Lions
LOS ANGELES — Three Cougar hitters finished with double-digit kills as No. 17 BYU women’s volleyball beat Loyola Marymount, 3-1 (25-20, 25-20, 14-25, 25-23) at the Gersten Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars (21-5, 15-2 WCC) hit just .246 for the match but received a game-high 19 kills from Erin Livingston and 12 each from Heather Gneiting and Elyse Stowell. Whitney Llarenas added nine kills of her own.
BYU recorded eight more digs than LMU (58 to 50), but were outblocked by the Lions, 9.5 to six. Gneiting led the Cougars with three total blocks. Livingston and Llarenas each had two.
Abby Taylor registered the third double-double of her BYU career, finishing with 34 assists and a team-high 18 digs. Kelsey Knudsen contributed 15 digs and seven assists.
Going back-and-forth early, BYU went on a 5-1 run, fueled by a pair of kills from Elyse Stowell, another by Heather Gneiting and a double block by the duo, giving the Cougars an 11-7 lead and forcing an LMU timeout.
Stowell went off the block for another kill and Gneiting scored on a slide, putting BYU ahead 14-8 as the Lions took their second timeout. Erin Livingston got on the board with a pair of kills before Gneiting hammered home her third of the set, but a 4-0 LMU run made it 17-13, Cougars, and BYU took a timeout.
Three kills by Kate Prior down the stretch fueled a 5-2 BYU run, and Gneiting put the first set away with a kill for the Cougars’ 25-20 set win. Gneiting and Stowell each recorded four kills in the set, while Prior had three.
Livingston opened the set with a cross court kill, and a Whitney Llarenas overpass kill put BYU ahead 3-2. Then trailing by two, a couple of kills by Stowell brought Gneiting to the service line. The middle blocker served a pair of aces surrounded by three Livingston kills, and the Cougars led 11-8.
Abby Taylor won a joust at the net, Livingston went off the block and out, and a couple LMU errors gave BYU a 15-10 advantage. The Lions fought within three, at 17-14, but two-straight kills by Livingston kept the Cougars ahead by five going into an LMU timeout, 19-14.
The Lions again drew within three before Livingston sent back a solo block and got an overpass kill on the next play. Gneiting served an ace off the tape, her third of the match, Llarenas landed a slide kill and BYU took the second set on two LMU errors, 25-20.
Continuing her momentum, Livingston scored three of the Cougars’ first four points. The Lions answered, however, with a 9-1 run that spanned a BYU timeout before a Llarenas kill ended the run at 11-6, LMU.
The Cougars battled and got within three, at 12-9, but took their second timeout trailing 16-10. BYU won four of the next six points, but the Lions scored the final seven points of the set to win it 25-14, and make it 2-1, Cougars for the match.
With three ties to start the third, LMU scored four-straight to go ahead 7-3, forcing a BYU timeout. Kills by Llarenas, Gneiting, Stowell and Livingston had the Cougars down by two, at 10-8.
BYU hung in, getting an overpass kill by Gneiting, a dump kill by Taylor, two kills by Stowell and another from Livingston in the back row to tie the set at 14. A second overpass kill by Gneiting, thanks to a strong Alyssa Montoya serve, then put the Cougars in front, 16-15.
Each team then went on their own 3-0 run and BYU called a timeout with the set tied at 19. Going back-and-forth, the set remained tied until 23-23, when the Cougars got kills from Stowell and Gneiting to finish off the Lions, 25-23, and win the match, 3-1.
The Cougars will return to Provo to host No. 2 San Diego in a senior matchup on Tuesday at 8 p.m. MST. The WCC finale will be televised on ESPNU.
No. 17 BYU faces LMU in final WCC road match
PROVO, Utah — No. 17 BYU women’s volleyball takes a six-match win streak into Los Angeles, facing Loyola Marymount in its final WCC road match on Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars (20-15, 14-2 WCC) swept Pepperdine on Thursday night for their third-consecutive sweep. Outside hitter Erin Livingston recorded her 24th game with double-digit kills, and sixth game with 20 or more kills, finishing with 20 for the match.
No. 17 BYU @ Loyola Marymount
Going 7-3 away from Provo this season, BYU head coach Heather Olmstead is 81-14 (.853) on the road all-time, with a 125-10 (.926) record in WCC play.
Olmstead’s teams are 13-2 against LMU, going 9-0 at the Smith Fieldhouse and 4-2 in Los Angeles. The Cougars have won the last seven matchups and 12 of the last 13.
BYU remained at No. 4 in the nation in team hitting percentage, upping its season clip to .305 after hitting .372 against the Waves on Thursday night. The Cougars also rank 20th in kills per set (14.01) and 21st in assists per set (12.99). BYU leads the WCC in all three statistical categories.
Middle blocker Whitney Llarenas sits atop the conference and at No. 14 nationally with a .407 season hitting clip. Livingston ranks No. 13 in the country in kills per set, at 4.43, and No. 17 in points per set, at 4.91, leading the WCC in both metrics.
Tallying a game-high six blocks at Pepperdine, middle blocker Gneiting leads the team with 106 total blocks on the year. She is 39th in the nation, averaging 1.26 blocks per set. Gneiting is also second on the team with 204 kills.
Loyola Marymount (17-8, 12-4 WCC)
- The Lions had a four-match win streak snapped on Thursday night, taking No. 2 San Diego to a fifth set before falling in the final frame, 15-11
- Since the two teams last met, LMU reeled off an eight-match win streak
- Kari Geissberger (312) and Jacquelyn Moore (211) lead the Lions in kills, with Isabella Bareford recording 987 assists
- Sam Hastings paces LMU in digs, with 300, while Phoebe Awoleye (130) and Geissberger (102) highlight the Lions’ blocking attack
- Rose Booth has tallied 40 service aces on the year
- In six seasons as head coach, Aaron Mansfield has posted a 92-66 record.
- BYU leads the all-time series with LMU, 23-2. The Cougars are 9-2 against the Lions in Los Angeles.
Following BYU’s match at LMU, the Cougars will return to Provo and host San Diego in a senior night matchup on Tuesday at 8 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on ESPNU.