No. 12 BYU beats Utah in front of record crowd, 3-1

No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball beat in-state rival Utah, 3-1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-19, 25-16) in front of a record-setting crowd of 5,528 at the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.


PROVO, Utah — No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball beat in-state rival Utah, 3-1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-19, 25-16) in front of a record-setting crowd of 5,528 at the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.

"We love the rivalry," sophomore opposite hitter Kate Prior said. "There's so much energy and excitement. You want to be good over time and playing in rivalries with all this energy, it's a good chance that we can be good over time."


BYU (9-1, 0-0 Big 12) hit .345 on the night with three separate Cougars registering double-digit kills as part of the team's 56 total kills. Outside hitter Erin Livingston contributed 16 on a .364 hitting percentage, while Prior tallied 10 on a .350 clip, also posting five blocks.

Freshman outside hitter Claire Little had 14 kills in the match, hitting .393 and also recording two blocks. Fellow freshman, middle blocker Mia Lee, carded seven kills and eight blocks. Senior setter Whitney Bower finished with 37 assists, eight digs, five kills, two blocks and two service aces.

Liberos Kamaile Hiapo and Hannah Billeter led the way with 12 digs each, a career high for Billeter. She also landed three of BYU's eight service aces, the second most that the Cougars have had this season. Middle blocker Whitney McEwan-Llarenas added a career-high two aces, while libero Brielle Miller had a career-high four digs and one assist.

Set 1
Both teams began the match trading leads, until Livingston propelled the Cougars ahead at 4-3. Followed by a service ace by Bower, the Cougars then combined for back-to-back double blocks to force the Utes' first timeout ahead 7-3.

Breaking up a 3-0 scoring run, the Utah put up some resistance on a kill followed by a service ace, 18-8. The Cougars continued to charge ahead with a service ace of their own by Billeter as the Utes took their second timeout trailing 21-8. BYU finished the set on a double block by Prior and Lee, 25-13.

Set 2
Erin Livingston led the Cougars to a fast start in the second, recording back-to-back kills. Billeter saw her third ace of the night putting the Cougars up 4-0. The Utes rallied to bring the score to within one before a point-for-point battle ensued, with Utah going up 14-11 for their largest lead of the night. 

Exiting the media timeout, BYU fought back on a kill by Livingston and Prior, a double block by Prior and Lee. Both teams went back-and-forth with a kill by Lee tying the set at 21-apiece. After the Utes went up 22-21, three timeouts were called within a span of four plays.

A double block from Little and Lee again tied the set, this time at 23-all, but Utah took the next two points to win the set and even the match at 1-1, 25-23.

Set 3
Back-to-back errors and a service ace by McEwan-Llarenas put the Cougars up 4-1 early in the fourth. After another Utah error, BYU led 7-2, forcing a Ute timeout. Two kills and a block by Little put the Cougars ahead by five, 12-7, but Utah fought back to tie it at 17, forcing a BYU timeout.

The Cougars proceeded to reel off five-straight, including a rally with digs by Miller and Hiapo that led to a kill by Little, bringing the Fieldhouse to its feet and causing a timeout by the Utes. Little's kill was a part of a 5-0 run as BYU closed the set scoring eight of the final 10 points to win the set, 25-19.

Set 4
Livingston brought the Cougars to a fast start to the fourth set, earning four kills for the early lead of 6-1. With McEwan-Llarenas back to serve, BYU went on a 9-1 scoring run, propelled by Livingston and Bower, putting the Cougars up 13-2. A Hiapo ace then extended the BYU lead to 15-4.

Utah kept its pressure, shrinking the BYU's advantage to eight at 19-11. Coming out of a Utes' timeout, the Cougars got kills from Prior and Little, before a Utah error gave the Cougars' match point, 24-13. Staving off three points by the Utes, BYU ended the match on a kill by Little to finish off the four-set victory, 25-16.

Up Next
The Cougars will next face Utah Valley on Friday at Lockhart Arena in Orem will the match beginning at 6 p.m. MDT on ESPN+.