PROVO, Utah – Behind 14 team blocks, No. 13 seed BYU women’s volleyball swept Princeton 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-23) in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse Friday night, advancing to the second round against UNLV on Saturday night.
“I'm really happy with that match," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "Congratualtions to Princeton on a great season. I'm happy with the way our team put the match together. I thought Whitney changed the momentum with a couple of blocks right in a row. I thought she intimidated them a little bit and changed the second set."
BYU (28-3, 16-2 West Coast Conference) had 14 blocks in the win, compared to just three for Princeton (19-5, 13-1 Ivy League).
Whitney Young Howard led the effort with nine kills on a .471 clip. The two senior middle blockers, Howard and Amy Boswell, had seven blocks each. Veronica Jones-Perry also had nine kills to go with her three digs and four blocks. Sophomore setter Lyndie Haddock paced the offense with 24 assists along with six digs and two blocks. Leading the defense, freshman libero Mary Lake had 16 digs, three assists and two aces.
In the first set, BYU earned four of its first six points from Princeton hitting errors, taking the early 6-3 lead. The Tigers bounced back with two-straight aces to get ahead by one, 8-7, before Lyndie Haddock dumped the ball over the net to tie it back up. Lake had back-to-back aces of her own to extend the Cougars’ lead to 14-11, forcing a Tigers timeout. Princeton went on a 4-1 run to go up 19-18, but a quick kill from Howard evened the score once again. Two-consecutive kills from Howard made it 23-21, and a kill from Boswell won the first set for BYU, 25-22.
The block got rolling for the Cougars in the second set. Boswell started it off with a block for the early 2-1 lead. After four unanswered Princeton points, McKenna Miller tooled the block to get within one, down 7-6. Howard had a hand in six points of a 7-1 Cougar run to get the team fired up. She had two solo blocks in the middle and two kills to push the lead to 15-9. Errors piled on to hurt Princeton, giving BYU four-straight points. Boswell and Miller combined for another stuff block to make it 23-15 before two Tiger hitting errors finished the second set, 25-15, for the Cougars.
Howard came out strong again in the third set, killing the ball for two of BYU’s first three points. Kills from Jones-Perry and Lacy Haddock gave the Cougars an early 5-3 lead. After the Tigers pushed back in front, Miller found the deep corner to cut the deficit to one, 9-8. BYU took back the 18-14 advantage after scoring five unanswered points, led by two kills from Jones-Perry. However, Princeton fought back, putting together runs to go up 22-21 over BYU. A Howard kill and a Tiger error put the Cougars back on top, 23-22. Howard and Jones-Perry combined for another block to make it match point, and Jones-Perry powered home a kill for the 25-23 third-set win and the sweep.
BYU is back in action Saturday night, hosting UNLV at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be televised live on BYUtv and BYUtv.org, along with audio on BYUradio.org.
UNLV vs. Utah
UNLV got the first point on the board in the first set off a botched served from Utah and the Rebels maintained a lead until the Utes tied the contest up at nine, and then later taking the lead at 12-11. Neither team took a lead of greater than two throughout the rest of the set, and UNLV was able to finish off the Utes, 27-25.
The Rebels had an edge for most of the second set and forced Utah into a timeout at 12-8. The Utes quickly put two points on the board, but UNLV kept the advantage over them, extending its large lead to six. Three fast scores for Utah gave the Utes some momentum, but it wasn't enough as the Rebels took the second set 25-21.
In the third set, Utah rallied at the beginning to take a lead over the Rebels, 11-7, and forced UNLV to take a timeout to regroup. UNLV came back with some energy, but it proved futile as Utah lengthened its advantage into another timeout at 16-10. The rest of the set was all Utah’s and it claimed the set win, 25-19.
The beginning of the fourth set was a close, with both teams trading points evenly until nearly the end of the set. UNLV took a 23-20 lead, which forced the Utes into a timeout. But two more straight points from the Rebels was all it took and UNLV claimed the set and match, 25-20.