Strong hitting fuels No. 8 BYU's sweep of UC Irvine

No. 8 BYU women’s volleyball hit a season-high .363 en route to a 3-0 sweep of UC Irvine (25-9, 25-21, 25-23) in the Cougar Challenge at Bohler Gym on Thursday night.


PULLMAN, Wash. — No. 8 BYU women’s volleyball hit a season-high .363 en route to a 3-0 sweep of UC Irvine (25-9, 25-21, 25-23) in the Cougar Challenge at Bohler Gym on Thursday night.


The Cougars (8-0, 0-0 Big 12) held the Anteaters to a .020 hitting percentage on the night, the fourth match this season that BYU has held its opponent below a .100 clip. The Cougars also out-hit Irvine 41 to 20, and out-blocked UCI 13 to five.

Opposite hitter Kate Prior led BYU with 11 kills on a .558 clip. Hitting .500 for the match, middle blocker Whitney McEwan-Llarenas added nine kills with no errors. Outside hitter Erin Livingston and Elyse Stowell contributed six kills each.

Setter Whitney Bower posted her second double-double of the day, recording 30 assists and 11 digs to go along with five kills on an .833 clip and four blocks. Libero Kamaile Hiapo tallied a game-high 17 digs, also carding five assists.

Prior, McEwan-Llarenas and middle blocker Brielle Kemavor each added five total blocks, a career-high for Kemavor. She also tied her career-high with three kills.

Set 1
BYU got kills from Livingston, McEwan-Llarenas, Prior and Whitney Bower early, making way for a Livingston-Whitney Bower double block that put the Cougars up 7-4.

Reeling off two separate 7-0 runs during a 14-1 span that forced both of UC Irvine’s timeouts, BYU also closed the opening set on a 3-0 run, quickly wrapping up the frame, 25-9.

Set 2
After the Anteaters scored the first point of the second, the Cougars took the next six, fueled by a Kamaile Hiapo ace and double block by McEwan-Llarenas and Stowell. Two McEwan-Llarenas kills had BYU in front 11-5, and the Cougars went ahead 13-7 on a kill by Livingston and dump from Whitney Bower.

Weathering a 3-0 UCI run with a Prior kill and Stowell-Mia Lee double block, Irvine then scored four-straight, and BYU took a timeout. The Anteaters tied things up on three different occasions after the timeout, but the Cougars answered each time, forcing a UCI timeout leading 19-17.

Irvine took two of the next three points to make it 20-19, BYU, but a McEwan-Llarenas kill and solo block by Brielle Kemavor helped the Cougars remain in front. A Kate Prior kill was sandwiched by two double blocks involving Kemavor as BYU took the second set, 25-21.

Set 3
The Cougars trailed 9-2 early as the Anteaters went on two 4-0 runs and BYU took both of its timeouts. Trading points from there, a Whitney Bower kill and two Prior-Kemavor double blocks cut the lead to four, and UC Irvine called a timeout ahead 12-8.

Both teams went back-and-forth out of the timeout, with UCI taking a 17-11 lead. The Anteaters maintained their six-point advantage through 21-15 before a Prior kill and two Irvine errors cut the lead to three, forcing a UCI timeout.

After the Anteaters took the first point out of the timeout, the Cougars went on a 5-0 run to take a 23-22 lead, their first lead of the set. An Irvine error gave BYU match point, which UCI fought off once to make it 24-23, Cougars.

Ending a long rally with a Whitney Bower dump kill into the middle, BYU secured the come-from-behind 25-23 set and match win.

Up Next
BYU will conclude Cougar Challenge tournament play on Friday, Sept. 8 against host and No. 13 Washington State at 7 p.m. PDT.