BYU Rolls Over Stunned No. 15 Rams in Five
PROVO -- In a tense contest the BYU women’s volleyball team defeated No. 15 Colorado State over five hard-fought sets (25-19, 25-19, 16-25, 23-25, 22-20) on Elaine Michaelis Court Thursday night. With the win the Cougars improve to 13-12 overall and 6-9 in the Mountain West Conference.
"These players certainly deserve this win," said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. "We've played really well the last few weeks but still come up short in a couple matches we thought we should've had. We've had a tough season, and we just wanted to win. This is their last weekend, and they wanted to shine."
Heading into the contest the Cougars looked outmatched by the Rams who led the MWC heading into the match. Despite the odds, senior middle blocker Rachel Dyer controlled the net while putting up a double-double with 14 kills and a season-high 10 blocks. Senior outside hitter Bryn Porter recorded her eighth double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs. Junior outside hitter Kayla Walker added to the effort, putting down a team-best 16 kills while sophomore setter Kiana Rogers totaled 50 assists, 14 digs with a career-high six blocks. The outstanding performances gave way to BYU’s unbelievable win.
In shocking fashion the Cougars jumped ahead of the stunned Rams, taking two straight sets, before the Rams came to life in the third and fourth frames. BYU answered back in the fifth set, battling to a 22-20 final score for the win.
In the first set the Cougars earned a hard-fought victory. Junior middle blocker Ashton Hansen-Hosford brought down the first kill of the game to put BYU up. After a neck-and-neck battle through the first 10 points of the set, BYU jumped ahead 13-10 and never looked back. Sophomore outsider hitter Christina Measom had five kills alone in the first set, while BYU depended upon its play at the net to hold back the fierce Ram hitters. The team totaled five blocks and held CSU to two.
The Cougars took nothing off their bite heading into the second set as they lengthened their lead two sets to none. The Rams battled hard as the two teams stayed within two points of each other through the first 20 points. BYU’s aggressive attack at the net lent to its resiliency against CSU. Rogers controlled the offense with 24 assists after two games with even distribution between the Cougar hitters.
Both teams were plagued with hitting and passing errors in the third set. BYU trailed the Rams before back-to-back blocks gave the Cougars their first lead, 10-9. CSU quickly regained the advantage with five unanswered points. With continued hitting errors, BYU was unable to overcome the deficit as CSU sprinted to a 25-16 win over the Cougars.
The fourth set proved much like the third for the Cougar hitters. The two teams battled back and forth until CSU took a three-point lead. After successful stints at the net blocking, BYU struggled to contain the Ram hitters until a momentum-shifting double block gave the Cougars a 15-14 lead. Walker put down a big hit for BYU to stretch to a two-point lead before a timeout.
The Rams tied the game coming out of the timeout, and strong blocking made way for a 22-18 lead. The Cougars battled back, coming within one point before the Rams finished with a 25-23 fourth set win, forcing a deciding set five.
In the final set super-charged CSU jumped out to a 5-1 lead. The Cougars climbed out of the four-point hole, tying the game a 9-9. Led by the offensive efforts of Dyer and Porter, BYU battled the Rams point-for-point until Dyer’s back-to-back kills put BYU up 21-20. On game point Rogers launched a set outside which Porter hit off the hand of CSU blockers for a 22-20 win.
The jubilant Cougars return to the court for their final match of the regular season Saturday. BYU faces the Wyoming Cowgirls at 7 p.m.
Set To Conclude the 2008 Season
PROVO -- The BYU women’s volleyball team will say farewell to the 2008 season this week as the Cougars compete in the final two matches of the year. BYU (12-12, 5-9 MWC) will host No. 15 Colorado State Thursday at 7 p.m. before taking on Wyoming Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. Thursday’s match will be televised live on The Mtn. while Saturday’s contest will feature Senior Night festivities honoring the two outgoing Cougars – Rachel Dyer and Bryn Porter.
“The team is definitely peaking right now and playing some great volleyball,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “We are looking forward to going the distance and finishing strong at home this week against Colorado State and Wyoming. Without a doubt, fans will get some great volleyball action in these two exciting matches.”
The Cougars are indeed peaking since making a line-up change on Oct. 17. BYU is coming off a five-set loss Friday night at No. 23 Utah that saw the Cougars take a 2-1 set lead before the home team was able to pull out the win. Junior Kayla Walker had been particularly impressive down the stretch. Prior to the change, Walker was second on the team with 2.72 kills per set, eighth hitting .207, fifth with 1.95 digs per set and fourth with 0.77 blocks per set. In the eight matches since the switch, she has improved her numbers in every category. She now leads BYU and ranks seventh in the MWC with 3.59 kps, is third on the team hitting .257, ranks second for the Cougars with 2.34 dps and is tied for the team lead with 1.17 bps. She has posted three double-doubles in that time and became the first Cougar to top the 20-kill mark this year with 21 at UNLV before posting 20 at Utah.
In addition to the excitement and emotion of taking on No. 15 Colorado State on Thursday, Saturday’s match will be the final contest in the impressive careers of Dyer and Porter.
A 6-foot-1 middle blocker, Dyer has left her mark on the Cougar program. She is a two-time All-Mountain West Conference honoree, a two-time AVCA West All-Region recipient and earned 2007 AVCA All-America honorable mention. The Encinitas, Calif. native posted the fourth-best hitting percentage in BYU history last season with a .411 mark, which also ranked 11th nationally. She has annually ranked among the league leaders in hitting percentage and blocks and has been a powerful presence in the middle throughout her career.
A 5-foot-10 outside hitter, Porter has been a solid performer for the Cougars, especially over the past two seasons. Playing alongside Chelsea Goodman last season, Porter averaged 2.79 kills per set and posted double-digit kills in 19 matches. As one of the Cougars’ go-to girls this year, Porter is among the team leaders in kills and is second for BYU in double-doubles. A team captain and two-time Academic All-MWC honoree, Porter has been named to three all-tournament teams in her career, earning BYU Molten Classic MVP honors this year.
Both the Rams and the Cowgirls will be looking to spoil the fun of the Cougars’ final weekend of play. Colorado State is 22-3 so far in 2008 and ranked No. 15 nationally. The Rams’ 12-2 MWC mark is tied for first with Utah. Two Rams pace the CSU offense as reigning MWC Player of the Year Mekana Barnes, a senior middle blocker, tallies a team-best 3.40 kps while senior outside hitter Jaime Strauss is right behind with 3.20 kills per set. Barnes is also hitting .369 on the year to rank second in the conference and notches a league-leading 1.48 blocks per set, which is fifth nationally. The Rams swept BYU earlier this season in Fort Collins, Colo., but BYU owns a 47-22-1 all-time series lead.
The Wyoming Cowgirls are 5-18 overall this season and 4-10 in league play. Sophomore rightside hitter Dani Bedore leads the team and ranks fifth in the league with 3.02 kills per set after transferring from South Carolina. Bedore’s 0.55 blocks per set is third for Wyoming. Two other Cowgirls – Lauren Whitney (2.93) and Jenna Arneson (2.32) top two kps to balance out the Wyoming offense. The Cougars swept the Cowgirls earlier this year to open MWC play and own a 62-4 all-time series lead.
In addition to live coverage of the CSU match on The Mtn., live stats for both matches will be available on GameTracker. A link to GameTracker can be found by going to the schedule page of the BYU women’s volleyball homepage at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/.