No. 18 Cougars fall to No. 2 Toreros in regular season finale
PROVO, Utah — No. 18 BYU women's volleyball dropped a four-setter to No. 2 San Diego (25-21, 19-25, 22-25, 22-25) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Tuesday evening.
The Cougars (21-6, 15-3 WCC) hit .205 to the Toreros' .243. San Diego recorded three more kills than BYU, at 58 to 55, and outblocked the Cougars, 11-7.
Outside hitter Erin Livingston and middle blocker Heather Gneiting led BYU with 13 kills each. Fellow middle blocker Whitney Llarenas tallied 12 kills of her own. Gneiting, Llarenas and outside hitter Elyse Stowell each added three blocks.
Liberos Aria McComber and Kelsey Knudsen recorded 13 and 11 digs, respectively. Setter Whitney Bower finished with 44 assists, nine digs and three kills.
BYU got off to a fast start leading 5-0, forcing San Diego to call a timeout. The Toreros responded, scoring the next three points and cutting their deficit to just 5-3. A service ace from Bower brought the Smith Fieldhouse to its feet as the Cougars continued to have control and maintain their lead through the first set, ahead 18-13.
The set was closed out and won by BYU 25-21, as Llarenas got the final kill the Cougars needed. BYU outhit San Diego .220 to .136 in the first set.
Set two began back-and-forth as the score was tied at 7-7 early on. The Toreros eventually began to build a lead of their own, with an 11-7 advantage at a timeout break.
San Diego continued to control the set, leading 16-9 as the Cougars were forced to call a timeout. The Toreros continued to maintain and extend their lead to 19-11. BYU began to make a run, cutting its deficit to 24-19 late in the set, but the Toreros were able to hang on and win 25-19.
The third set began back-and-forth just like the second, as the score was tied at 5-5. San Diego began to take a lead, going up 8-5 when a timeout was called. A Livingston kill out of the timeout sparked a 3-0 run for the Cougars, tying the set at 8.
A service ace from Livingston gave BYU a 10-9 lead in the set, but the Toreros regained the lead at 13-12. Another Livingston kill tied the score at 16-16, with a service ace from Livingston giving the Cougars a 19-18 lead before a timeout was called.
San Diego regained the lead at 21-20 before another timeout was called. The Toreros were able to hang on and win the set 25-22.
The Toreros led 5-3 early in the fourth set, but BYU was able to take the lead at 6-5. San Diego eventually tied things up at 10-10 and led by two before a timeout was called by the Cougars.
A lead of five was eventually constructed by the Toreros as they led 19-14 late in the set. San Diego continued to apply pressure and led 21-15.
Livingston's 13th kill kept BYU alive as the Cougars went on a 3-0 run, cutting their deficit to 22-19 before a timeout was called. BYU kept fighting, but the Toreros were able to hang on and win the set 25-22.
The Cougars will now await the NCAA Selection Show, scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 27 at 5:30 p.m. MST on ESPNU, for their NCAA Tournament seeding.
No. 18 BYU welcomes No. 2 San Diego for senior night WCC finale
PROVO, Utah — No. 18 BYU women’s volleyball will host No. 2 San Diego in its final West Coast Conference match on Tuesday at 8 p.m. MST. The top-20 matchup will be televised on ESPNU and serve as senior night for six graduating Cougars.
Riding a seven-match win streak after beating Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount on the road last week, the Cougars (21-5, 15-2 WCC) dropped a spot to No. 18 in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll. Dating back to 2013, BYU has been ranked in the Top 25 for 149-consecutive polls.
Outside hitter Erin Livingston paced the Cougars last week with 39 kills between their two wins at Pepperdine and LMU. Middle blocker Heather Gneiting and outside hitter Elyse Stowell each contributed 20 kills of their own.
Gneiting tallied nine total blocks on the week, while fellow middle blocker Whitney Llarenas added six. The duo combine for just over 90 percent of the team’s blocks this season.
Setter Abby Taylor recorded 68 assists between BYU’s two matches, posting a double-double against the Lions with 34 assists and 18 digs. Taylor has three double-doubles in seven starts for the Cougars.
No. 18 BYU vs. No. 2 San Diego
Going 13-1 at the Smith Fieldhouse this season, BYU head coach Heather Olmstead is 113-6 (.950) in Provo all-time, with a 126-10 (.926) record in WCC play. The Cougars have won 28-straight conference games at home.
Olmstead’s teams are 10-5 against San Diego, with a 5-2 record at the Smith Fieldhouse and 5-3 record at Jenny Craig Pavilion. BYU had won four of the last five matchups and six of the last 10.
The two teams met at the end of October, marking the Cougars’ last Top 25 matchup. BYU is 26-18 all-time against Top 25 teams, with a 14-3 record against ranked opponents at home. The Cougars are 7-13 against Top 10 teams overall, but 4-1 against them at the Smith Fieldhouse.
BYU remained at No. 4 in the nation with a .302 team hitting percentage while moving up to 19th in kills per set (14.03). The Cougars also rank 26th in assists per set (12.92) and lead the conference in all three statistical categories.
Llarenas sits atop the conference and at No. 11 nationally with a .407 season hitting clip. Leading the team with 109 total blocks, Gneiting averages 1.24 blocks per set, ranking No. 48 in the nation.
Livingston moved up to No. 12 in the country in kills per set, at 4.44 and to No. 27 in points per set, at 4.92. She also stands at No. 74 in attacks per set (10.24). Livingston leads the WCC in all three metrics.
No. 2 San Diego (26-1, 17-0 WCC)
- The Toreros have won 23 consecutive matches, with their only loss this year coming at then-No. 3 Louisville during the second weekend of the season
- Pepperdine and LMU are the only teams to have taken a set off of San Diego in WCC play, with the Lions forcing a fifth set in both of the team’s matchups
- Kate Lukes (355), Breana Edwards (283) and Grace Frohling (279) lead the Toreros in kills, with Gabby Blossom just surpassing the 1k mark in assists, with 1,036
- Annie Benbow (338) and Blossom (238) pace San Diego in digs, while Leyla Blackwell leads the team in total blocks, at 134
- Frohling (29 aces), Blossom (28 aces) and former Cougar Madi Allen (27 aces) highlight the Toreros’ efforts from the service line
- Jennifer Petrie has been head coach at San Diego for 22 seasons, going 473-164 in that time
- BYU leads the all-time series, 14-11. The Toreros swept the first matchup in San Diego back in October. BYU is 8-3 against San Diego in Provo.
The Cougars’ top-20 senior night matchup with the Toreros will conclude the WCC slate and regular season schedule. BYU will then await the NCAA Selection Show, scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 27 at 5:30 p.m. MST on ESPNU, for its NCAA Tournament seeding.