No. 10 BYU sweeps No. 20 Houston in Big 12 opener

No. 10 BYU women’s volleyball overpowered No. 20 Houston 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-18) in its Big 12 Conference opener at the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.


PROVO, Utah — No. 10 BYU women’s volleyball overpowered No. 20 Houston 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-18) in its Big 12 Conference opener at the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.


Its was a back-and-forth contest until midway through the second set, when BYU (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) went on a 13-0 run, which changed the entire feel of the match.

Erin Livingston led the way for BYU, hitting .310 with 12 kills to go along with four blocks. Midway through the second set, Livingston recorded her 1,000th-career kill, becoming the 23rd in program history to do so. The senior from Corona, California now has 1,005 kills on her resume, ranking her ninth at BYU in the rally scoring era.  

Whitney McEwan-Llarenas hit at .286 to record six kills. The middle blocker added eight blocks as well. Setter Whitney Bower stuffed the stat sheet with four kills, five blocks, 12 digs and 21 assists, while hitting at a clip of .571. Kate Prior pitched in six kills of her own. 

As a team, BYU out-hit Houston .253 to .029, the sixth time this season that BYU has held opponents below .100 hitting. The Cougars of Provo combined for 12 blocks to Houston’s four. BYU totaled just 17 combined attack or service errors while UH totaled 37. 

Set 1
Houston began the match hitting .625 and rode a 4-0 run to an early 9-4 lead. McEwan-Llarenas and Bower helped BYU stop the Houston run with a block that jump-started the home team’s offense to a 5-0 run of its own.

BYU and UH proceeded to go back-and-forth down the stretch of the set, with neither team leading by more than three. Two kills from Livingston, along with one from Claire Little, an ace by Aria McComber and a solo block from Mia Lee helped the Cougars build up a 20-17 lead. 

Three more kills from Livingston gave BYU set point at 24-23, and Little finished the frame with a dagger kill to give BYU the 26-24 win. The opening set saw 12 ties and four lead changes, with BYU hitting at .235 while Houston posted a .200 clip.

Set 2
The second set began much as the first, with Houston jumping out to a quick 7-3 lead. BYU began finding its offensive groove with a kill from Little and an ace from Kamaile Hiapo. The brick wall of Bower and McEwan-Llarenas trimmed the UH lead to one at 8-7, before McEwan-Llarenas knotted the game at nine with a kill. 

The score sparked a 13-0 BYU run, with Livingston at the center of it all. The veteran outside hitter recorded three kills in the sequence along with two blocks on the defensive end. BYU’s mid-set offense hit at a scorching .416 on the way to a match-high 21-9 lead.

Two kills from Bower and a solo block from Livingston helped BYU finish the set with a dominant 25-13 win. Livingston and company hit at .273 for the set, while holding Houston to -.088.

Set 3
BYU bolted out to a 6-0 lead, aided by blocks from Livingston as well as Bower and Lee, along with an ace courtesy of McEwan-Llarenas. UH climbed back to tie the set at nine following an 8-1 run. BYU responded to the rally with four kills in short order from Livingston and McEwan-Llarenas. 

Houston’s newfound momentum petered out after a mid-set rash of errors, three of which came on the attack and two from the service line.

Prior notched two kills to finish the set and wrap up BYU’s sweep with a 25-18 set victory. BYU hit to the tune of .259 in the third, while forcing yet another negative hitting performance from Houston, this one at -.065.

Up Next 
BYU plays its second match of the week with a Saturday matinee versus Baylor. The Cougars and No. 18 Bears will face off at 1 p.m. MDT with live coverage on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.