No. 8 Cougars drop four-setter at No. 13 Wazzu


PULLMAN, Wash. — No. 8 BYU women’s volleyball suffered its first loss of the 2023 season to host and No. 13 Washington State (25-18, 19-25, 21-25, 19-25) in a top-15 matchup in the Cougar Challenge at Bohler Gym on Thursday night.

Outside hitter Erin Livingston and opposite hitter Kate Prior were named to the Cougar Challenge all-tournament team. Together they teamed up to total 65 kills across BYU's three matches, just under 50 percent of the team's offensive productivity in the Palouse.


The Cougars of Provo (8-1, 0-0 Big 12) hit just .169 to Wazzu’s .302 in the match, on a night when they were also out-blocked (11 to eight) and out-dug (58 to 48) by WSU.

Livingston finished with 21 kills, one off of her career-high, on a .341 clip. Prior and middle blocker Whitney McEwan-Llarenas each added six kills, while setter Whitney Bower and outside hitter Elyse Stowell contributed five.

Whitney Bower totaled 38 assists and libero Kamaile Hiapo tallied a game-high 20 digs. McEwan-Llarenas carded a team-high five blocks. Livingston and Whitney Bower both posted two service aces.

Set 1
BYU got kills from Erin Livingston, Whitney McEwan-Llarenas and Elyse Stowell, as well as an ace by Livingston, as the two teams traded points through 11-11. The BYU Cougars took their first lead since the opening point on a Livingston kill, her fourth of the frame, at 12-11, going in front 15-13 at the media timeout.

Livingston’s second ace of the night capped off a 3-0 run and had BYU ahead 16-13. After a Washington State error and a double block by McEwan-Llarenas and Stowell, BYU held an 18-14 advantage, forcing a WSU timeout.

The BYU Cougars responded to a 3-0 Wazzu run with a 6-0 run of their own that spanned Washington State’s second timeout and gave BYU set point. Whitney Bower put away a dump kill a point later for a 25-18 first-set win.

Set 2
Kills by Stowell and Kate Prior paced a 3-0 run that gave BYU an early 4-2 lead before WSU tied things up at 4-, 5- and 6-all. Another Whitney Bower dump, a cross-court Livingston kill and a Prior-Mia Lee double block put the BYU Cougars in front, 9-6.

A 3-0 Wazzu run gave Washington State its first lead since 1-0, at 11-10. Then going on a 4-0 run, WSU took a 16-12 advantage that spanned both the media and a BYU timeout.

Livingston stopped the Wazzu run with back-to-back kills. She landed another before Bower scored on an overpass as BYU cut the Washington State lead to one, at 18-17.

Trailing 21-18, BYU took its second timeout, but WSU closed the set on a 4-1 run to win 25-19 and even the match at one set apiece.

Set 3
BYU got a kill by Whitney Bower and two from Lee as it led 5-3 in the early going. Wazzu then tied the set and took a 7-6 lead after a 3-0 run, but a pair of Livingston kills helped BYU regain the lead, at 9-8.

With the BYU Cougars ahead 11-10 after a kill by Lee, Washington State went on a 4-0 run to go in front 14-11, forcing a BYU timeout. WSU got another kill out of the timeout before Prior ended the run with a kill off the block.

Wazzu took the next three points, however, forcing BYU’s second timeout, trailing 18-12. The BYU Cougars responded, reeling off four straight to make it 18-16, WSU.

After Washington State took five of the next seven points, BYU scored three in a row, to get within two at 23-21, but Wazzu scored the next two to take a 2-1 lead in the match, winning set three, 25-21.

Set 4
BYU opened up a 3-0 lead in the fourth, but a 3-0 WSU run had the BYU Cougars down 5-4. Another 3-0 run by Wazzu had BYU trailing 9-6, and it took its first timeout.

Prior broke up the run will a kill off the block, but WSU scored three-straight again to lead 12-7. Facing a 16-9 deficit, BYU got kills from McEwan-Llarenas and Livingston but took a timeout down 17-11.

BYU got a kill from Livingston, her 20th, and a service ace by Whitney Bower, but Washington State took five of the next six points to lead 23-14. BYU then scored five of the next six, including a pair of blocks involving Eden Bower, the second a solo stuff, to keep it close, but Wazzu closed out the match with a 25-19 fourth-set win.

Up Next
The Cougars will return home to host in-state rival Utah at the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. MDT. The game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.