PROVO, Utah – The AVCA named BYU women’s volleyball head coach Heather Olmstead the Pacific South Region Coach of the Year and four student-athletes earned AVCA Pacific South All-Region honors on Tuesday.
Senior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon, sophomore setter Whitney Bower, senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg and sophomore opposite Kate Grimmer were named to the All-Region team.
Olmstead led BYU to a 16-1 overall record and a 15-1 record in West Coast Conference play to secure the Cougars’ fifth league title in her sixth season at the helm of the BYU women’s volleyball program. This marks the second time Olmstead has been named Pacific South Region Coach of the Year. The head coach first received the recognition in 2018 before going on to be named the 2018 AVCA National Coach of the Year.
The 2020-21 WCC Coach of the Year and the Cougars secured the No. 16 seed and a first-round bye in the 2020-21 NCAA Tournament, marking the program’s ninth consecutive tournament berth. Under Olmstead, BYU has advanced to four Sweet 16s and the 2018 Final Four. She currently owns the highest career winning percentage among active coaches at 160-19 (.894).
Ballard-Nixon led the Cougars with 3.89 kills per set and 4.47 points per set during the regular season while securing a spot on this year’s All-WCC First Team. The senior totaled 222 kills, 117 digs, 30 blocks and 15 aces in 57 sets.
Recently crowned the WCC Player and Setter of the Year, Bower led one of the most efficient offenses in the country. The Cougars rank No. 5 in the NCAA Division I in both assists per set (13.56) and hitting percentage (.312) while ranking No. 9 in kills per set (14.40). The two-time All-WCC First Team honoree averaged 10.81 assists per set to rank No. 24 nationally while collecting 616 assists, 44 kills on a .396 clip, 25 blocks and 22 aces.
Collecting her third consecutive All-Region accolade, Eschenberg anchored BYU offensively and defensively while ranking No. 6 in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.459) and No. 11 in blocks per set (1.52). The senior also received her second All-WCC First Team honor after leading the league in both categories.
Grimmer tallied 170 kills on a .341 clip, the second-highest total on the team. BYU’s fourth All-WCC First Team and All-Region honoree also recorded the second-most points, finishing the regular season with 187.5. She also added 35 blocks and 31 digs to her season stat line.
All-Region awardees are now eligible for All-America consideration; All-Americans will be announced Wednesday, April 21.
Following its first-round bye in the 2020-21 NCAA Tournament, BYU will play the winner of Rider and UCLA on Thursday, April 15 at 9:30 p.m. CDT on ESPN3.