No. 7 BYU beats Cincinnati in four sets, improves to 5-0


PROVO, Utah — No. 7 BYU women’s volleyball improved to 5-0 on the season behind a season-high 63 kills to knock off the Cincinnati Bearcats 3-1 (25-13, 21-25, 25-14, 25-19) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday night.


“I just love our focus, energy and fire,” said BYU junior outside hitter Erin Livingston. “We never think we’re done and we’re good at pushing to the next set.”

Livingston’s performance was capped with 17 kills on a .444 clip, just one shy of her career high. She also tallied six digs, two blocks and one service ace. The Cougars recorded a .363 hitting percentage in the four-set victory, complimented by six service aces, 46 digs and 12 blocks.

Freshman outside hitter Eden Bower contributed a career-high 13 kills, four digs and two blocks.

Graduate middle blocker Whitney Llarenas tallied nine on a .357 clip to go along with five blocks. Senior middle blocker Heather Gneiting notched 11 kills, six digs and four blocks. Senior setter Whitney Bower totaled 48 assists for her highest of the season.

Senior opposite hitter Kate Grimmer carded seven kills on a .600 hitting percentage along with six digs and four blocks in the four-set victory.

Set 1
The Cougars began the match by taking an early 6-2 advantage with five BYU points coming off of kills from Gneiting, Livingston, Whitney Bower and Llarenas. Whitney Bower assisted on three of the first six scores while Gneiting added a service ace.

Out of an early Cincinnati timeout, Eden Bower kept the Cougar momentum going with a roof block to go up 7-2. Both teams would trade points after a kill by the Bearcats which brought the score to 12-7.

BYU would go on a 5-0 run in the ensuing points, highlighted by Gneiting’s second service ace and a kill by Livingston after a marathon point. Trading a series of errors with the Bearcats, Whitney Bower’s 12th assist landed an Eden Bower kill to put the Cougars up 22-12.

With the score at 23-12, an error by Cincinnati led to Gneiting’s first solo block of the night to close out the set with a 25-13 BYU victory in set one.

Set 2
After two Livingston kills, one from Llarenas and service aces by Aria McComber and Gneiting, BYU went up 5-1.

A block by Llarenas and Eden Bower pushed the lead to 9-4 before the Bearcats went on a 6-1 run to even the score at 10-10, with the lone Cougar point coming off a kill from Eden Bower.

A back-and-forth series of points brought the score to 17-17, with the Cougars hitting a .150 clip at that point in the set, contrasting sharply with an efficient .538 first set hitting percentage.

With the Bearcats up 20-18, Heather Gneiting notched her third kill of the night to cut into Cincinnati’s momentum. The Bearcats would score three consecutive points to push the lead to 23-19, their largest lead of the set.

A Cincinnati kill set up its own 24-20 advantage. A put-away by Livingston closed the gap to 24-21, but ultimately gave way to a second set victory for Cincinnati at 25-21.

Set 3
The Cougars would once again take an early 5-1 lead after two kills by Livingston and one from Gneiting.

Gneiting’s sixth put-away had BYU up 9-5, kickstarting a 5-1 Cougar run that included Livingston’s 12th kill of the contest. The run was capped by a block from both Gneiting and Livingston to push the BYU lead to 13-6.

The next five points for the Cougars were kills, with two coming from Gneiting and one apiece for Llarenas, Whitney Bower and Eden Bower. Eden Bower’s kill marked her ninth of the night.

With the score at 18-11, the Cougars held a .824 third set clip and no errors.

The Cougars would go on to score four of the next five points that included a service ace by Alyssa Montoya, marking BYU’s sixth of the match, as the Cougars led 22-12.

Livingston finished a point off a Whitney Bower assist to set up the Cougars’ second set-point of the night. A solo block by Llarenas capped off BYU’s second double-digit set victory of the match, 25-14.

En route to the third set victory, BYU rebounded in a major way by carding a .696 hitting percentage, their best in a single set this season. The Cougars recorded 17 kills on 23 swings while only committing one error. They also recorded nine digs and four blocks on the set.

Set 4
A couple of Cincinnati errors paired with kills carded by Whitney Bower, Livingston and Llarenas helped the Cougars jump out to a 5-2 edge.

A series marked by nearly identical consecutive block assists from Gneiting and Grimmer put the Cougars up 10-5.

With an 11-5 BYU advantage, the Bearcats would score four of the ensuing six points to slash the lead to 13-9.

The Cougars responded with a 5-2 run to extend the lead to 18-11 after Whitney Bower tallied four assists that included a kill by Livingston to mark her fifteenth of the night.

Eden Bower finished off her thirteenth and final kill of the night to start a 3-0 BYU run that would push the lead to set point at 24-17 after two additional put aways by Gneiting and Livingston.

After two Cougar errors, the Cougars finished the set with Livingston’s 17th and final kill, matching her season-high and one shy of her career-high last year against San Francisco.

The BYU Nike Invitational continues with the Cougars taking part in a top-10 showdown tomorrow night against No. 10 Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv and the BYUtv app. Fans will need tickets for admission to the contest.