No. 15 Cougars prepare for in-state rivalry matchup


PROVO, Utah — Looking to bounce back after three-consecutive losses to Top 10 teams, No. 15 BYU women’s volleyball travels the hour north to face in-state rival Utah this week.

The Cougars dropped five spots in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll after losses at then-No. 5 Georgia Tech and to then-No. 8 Ohio State. BYU has been ranked in the top-17 for 130-straight polls. 

Ranked No. 22 in the preseason poll, Utah dropped out of the AVCA poll after the first week of the season but has received votes each week. The Utes had 40 votes in this week’s poll, putting them just four spots out of the top-25. 

No. 15 BYU @ Utah

Head coach Heather Olmstead is 7-2 against Utah during her tenure, including 3-0 at the Huntsman Center. When the two teams faced off during the regular season last year, the Utes were unranked. Utah was No. 16 in the AVCA poll when the No. 11-seeded Cougars hosted Utah during the postseason. 

Through eight games, junior outside hitter Erin Livingston leads the team with 108 kills. Livingston is averaging four kills a set, good for 52nd nationally. Senior middle blockers Heather Gneiting and Whitney Llarenas have tallied 31 and 32 blocks, respectively. The pair have also combined to put down 126 kills this season.

Averaging 9.67 assists a set, a mark that ranks 79th in the country, senior setter Whitney Bower has recorded 261 assists on the year. Bower has also contributed a team-high 70 digs. 

Utah (6-3, 0-0 Pac-12)

  • The Utes went 2-1 in the San Diego Tournament last weekend, beating SMU and Connecticut in four sets before falling to then-No. 12 San Diego in five sets
  • Utah also took then-No. 11 Purdue to five sets in West Lafayette the second weekend of the season
  • Fifth-year senior and BYU transfer Madelyn Robinson leads the Utes with 143 kills on the year
  • Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Jardine is second on the team with 96 kills
  • Senior setter Emily Smith has tallied 343 assists, junior libero Vanessa Ramirez has recorded 144 digs and junior middle blocker Allie Olsen has 26 blocks for Utah
  • Head coach Beth Launiere is in her 33rd season with the Utes and has a 629-387 record during that time
  • BYU leads the all-time series with Utah, 75-29. The Cougars won both matchups last season, sweeping the Utes during the regular season and then beating them in four in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

Following Thursday night’s match at Utah, BYU will have a day to prepare for Utah Valley, continuing the in-state slate as they play the Wolverines in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse.