Bower becomes career assist leader as No. 9 BYU drops four-setter at No. 10 Texas

Senior setter Whitney Bower became BYU women's volleyball's rally scoring era career assist leader as the 9th-ranked Cougars fell at No. 10 Texas, 3-1 (28-26, 13-25, 22-25, 20-25) at Gregory Gym on Friday night.

No. 9 BYU women's volleyball @ No. 10 Texas (Gregory Gym in Austin, Texas — 9/29/23))No. 9 BYU women's volleyball @ No. 10 Texas (Gregory Gym in Austin, Texas — 9/29/23))

AUSTIN, Texas — For the second night in a row, No. 9 BYU women’s volleyball took the first set off of No. 10 Texas before dropping the next three (28-26, 13-25, 22-25, 20-25) at Gregory Gym on Friday night.

Senior setter Whitney Bower became the program's rally scoring era career assists leader midway through the first set. She came in needing 10 asssists to tie Lauren Richards Evans (4,056 assists) and 11 to take sole possesion of first place. The Preseason All Big 12 honoree's 11th assist of the night came on a kill by outside hitter Eden Bower. She now has 4,076 assists in her five-year career.


The Cougars (13-3, 2-2 Big 12) recorded three more kills than the Longhorns, but were out-hit (.199 to .153), out-dug (70 to 54) and out-blocked (13-10). Texas also tallied nine service aces to BYU’s two and just five service errors to the Cougars’ 13.

Three BYU players finished with double-digit kills: Eden Bower, who tied a career-high with 13, and both Whitney Bower and middle blocker Whitney McEwan-Llarenas, who pitched in 10 each, a career-high for Bower. Whitney Bower also dished out 30 assists, her fifth double-double of the season.

Opposite hitter Kate Prior added nine kills, while outside hitter Erin Livingston had seven. Liberos Kamaile Hiapo and Hannah Billeter posted 14 and 10 digs, respectively. Both McEwan-Llarenas and Mia Lee had five blocks each.

Set 1
A 4-0 run helped BYU to a 7-3 lead in the early going. The Cougars received three kills each from Prior and Eden Bower, and a pair of kills from both from Whitney Bower and Livingston as they took a 15-14 lead at the media timeout.

Reeling off three-straight on a kill by Eden Bower, slide from McEwan-Llarenas and Whitney Bower’s second dump kill of the set, BYU went up 18-15, forcing a Texas timeout. The Longhorns tied the set at 18 with their own 3-0 run, and the Cougars called timeout.

Kills by Eden Bower and Livingston, along with three Texas errors gave BYU set point, but the Longhorns knotted the set again at 24-all. Trading points from there, Eden Bower’s seventh kill of the set and a Texas error earned the Cougars a 28-26 opening set win.

Set 2
Weathering early Longhorn runs, a pair of kills each from Whitney Bower, Eden Bower and Livingston helped BYU keep the second set close at 9-8, Texas. With the Longhorns on a 3-0 run scoring five of six points, the Cougars took a timeout down 14-9.

As Texas extended its run to five-consecutive points to lead 16-9, BYU called its second timeout. The Cougars answered a 4-0 Longhorn run with a kill by Prior to make it 21-13, but Texas took the next four points to even the match at one set apiece, 25-13.

Set 3
Racing out to a 7-1 lead in the third that spanned a Texas timeout, BYU got four double blocks and a quick hitter for McEwan-Llarenas. A Prior kill, Whitney Bower dump and two Longhorn errors made it 11-3, Cougars, and spanned Texas’ second timeout.

The setter won a joust at the net before scoring on another dump, but two 3-0 Longhorn runs trimmed the BYU advantage to 13-10, and the Cougars called timeout. Taking four of the next five points, Texas tied the set at 14. Both teams went on 3-0 runs from there, and BYU took its second timeout with the set tied at 17-all.

Scoring four of the next five, including back-to-back McEwan-Llarenas kills had the Cougars in front 21-18, but a 6-0 Longhorn run had BYU trailing 24-21. Texas closed out the set two points later to take a 2-1 lead in the match, 25-22.

Set 4
Going back-and-forth to start the fourth frame, two Whitney Bower dump kills fueled the Cougars through a 9-9 tie. A pair of Prior kills kept BYU close as the Longhorns would take five of the next seven points to lead 14-11, where the Cougars called timeout.

BYU got kills from McEwan-Llarenas and Livingston as it drew within one at 15-14, but four-straight Texas points spanning the Cougars’ second timeout had BYU trailing 19-14.

Kills from Lee, Prior and Eden Bower made it 22-18, Longhorns, and two McEwan-Llarenas kills kept the deficit at four, but Texas would finish off the fourth, 25-20.

Up Next
BYU will have a long week to prepare for its second Big 12 road trip in a row with a single match at Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. CDT.