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2022 BYU Women's Volleyball Season Review

PROVO, Utah — BYU women’s volleyball concluded its 2022 season with an 11th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and a No. 18 final American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) ranking, marking 151-consecutive weeks that the Cougars have been in the AVCA Top 25.

Finishing 22-7 overall and 15-3 in West Coast Conference (WCC) play, BYU advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, sweeping James Madison before falling to eventual national semifinalist and host Pittsburgh.

Head coach Heather Olmstead improved to 8-0 in all Tournament-opening matches with the win over JMU. Earlier in the season, Olmstead also earned her 200th-career win, becoming the fastest in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball history to hit the 200-win mark, doing so in just 225 games.

In its final season as a member of the WCC, the Cougars finished runner-up behind San Diego, also a national semifinalist. BYU led the league in both team hitting percentage (.298) and kills per set (14.01), with those marks ranking No. 4 and No. 17 on a national scale. As a team, BYU also averaged 12.96 assists per set, good for No. 21 in the country. 

Outside hitter Erin Livingston also found herself amongst the national ranks, posting 4.46 kills per set (No. 15) and 4.95 points per set (No. 16). Livingston led the WCC in both of those statistical categories, as well as attacks per set, at 10.65. Hitting .304 on the season, she recorded a team-high 437 kills, posting double-digit kills in all but one of the Cougars’ 29 matches. 

Livingston and middle blocker Heather Gneiting received a handful of postseason awards following their success this season, being named AVCA All-America Honorable Mentions, All-America Honorable Mentions and to the AVCA Pacific South All-Region Team.

Gneiting finished with team-highs in aces (32) and total blocks (121), finishing second-most in kills, with 244. Out of Pleasant Grove, Utah, she capped off her BYU career second in the rally scoring era with 52 solo blocks and No. 6 in the era with 524 total blocks.

Including Gneiting and Livingston, six Cougars received All-WCC honors. The duo, along with setter Whitney Bower and middle blocker Whitney Llarenas, were named to the First Team, with libero Kelsey Knudsen and middle blocker Kate Prior earning Honorable Mention honors. Prior was also named to the All-Freshman Team.

Bower totaled 763 assists on the year, also adding 78 kills and 13 service aces. Maintaining one of the nation’s highest hitting percentages throughout the season, Llarenas finished the year with a .386 clip, good for 10th at BYU in the rally scoring era.

Middle blockers Llarenas and Gneiting each also earned WCC Defensive Player of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks during the month of October. 

Knudsen led the team with 248 digs while also tallying 82 assists and 14 service aces. The Cougars received impressive production from Prior, who played the majority of the season at right side, contributing 67 kills on a .338 clip and 30 total blocks.

Heading into its first year as members of the Big 12 next year, BYU will rely on experienced upperclassmen and talented underclassmen as the Cougars look for continued success at both the conference and national levels.