No. 4-seed Cougars sweep Wildcats in First Round

No. 4-seed BYU women's volleyball defeated in-state foe Weber State, 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 27-25) in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday night.


PROVO, Utah — No. 4-seed BYU women's volleyball defeated in-state foe Weber State, 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 27-25) in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday night.

“That was a great match," said BYU head coach Heather Olmstead. "Congrats to Weber State on a great season. I thought that was a really fun environment for our team to play in. There are a lot of girls on their side that our players know and it is always fun to play against your friends. I am really just proud of the way our team was super resilient in that third set. We are happy to be here and grateful to be advancing.”


With the win over the Wildcats, the Cougars (25-6, 13-5 Big 12) advance to the second round, where they will host No. 5-seed Arizona State on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. MST.

BYU hit .292 on the night to Weber State's .122. The Cougars out-blocked the Wildcats, eight to seven and recorded 13 more digs, at 49 to 36.

Outside Erin Livingston accrued 21 kills in the match, setting an NCAA Tournament-high after finishing with 20 against James Madison last season. Her 21 kills came on a .341 clip, and she also contributed four digs and two blocks.

Setter Whitney Bower posted her seventh double-double of the season with 31 assists and 11 digs. Libero Kamaile Hiapo tallied 12 digs, tied for a game-high. Middle blocker Whitney McEwan-Llarenas's five total blocks were also tied for a game-high.

Set 1
The Cougars opened the match going on a 5-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back kills from Livingston and a double block by Whitney Bower and Mia Lee. A dish to the Weber State backcourt by Bower forced the Wildcats to take the first timeout of the night, 12-6.

Weber State forced two points coming out of the timeout, putting the score up 12-8. The Cougars responded quickly, earning four of their own, in part to two kills from Livingston. A 3-0 run by BYU had Weber State call another timeout, 16-9.

Both teams traded points coming out of the break, with the Wildcats securing the first service ace on the evening. BYU went on a 3-0 run of their own led by Livingston’s seventh kill of the set. The Cougars took the first set of the match 25-16 with another Livingston kill.

Set 2
Weber State earned the first point of set two on a back-and-forth rally. More rallies ensued, highlighted by a deep cross court shot by Livingston to move the Cougars up 6-2. The Wildcats stayed in the mix, earning the next four of five points. Weber Stat tied the match 8-8, with their second service ace of the match.

Both teams went point-for-point through the middle of the set. McEwan-Llarenas and Livingston recorded a double block, followed immediately by Lee with a solo block through the stretch. With a careful eye, Bower let a Wildcat ball go outside the line to put the Cougars up 15-13 ahead of media timeout.

Weber State took the first point out of the break, but BYU responded quickly earning two-straight points ending in a service ace by Hannah Billeter. The Wildcats then took a timeout trailing 17-14. 

BYU re-took control with a quick dish kill from Bower, followed by a double-block by her and McEwan-Llarenas,  causing another Wildcat timeout. The Cougars finished out the set taking five of the final seven points. Livingston secured the second set for BYU with her 14th kill on the night, 25-16.

Set 3
BYU took the first two points of the third set, capped off by the team’s second service ace on the night by McEwan-Llarenas. The Wildcats came back speedily, taking over the lead for just the second time on the night. BYU fought back, led by Prior with a rocket shot that went off a Wildcat into the stands. Weber State maintained control of the scoreboard with two, extending for their lead to 11-7, forcing a BYU timeout.

The Wildcats immediately knocked down another ace before the Cougars mounted a rally, fueled by kills from McEwan-Llarenas and Livingston. A stuff by Bower at the net put the Cougars back in the mix, and another kill from Livingston caused Weber State to take a timeout ahead 16-13. Two more kills from Livingston and a deep shot by Stowell brought the Cougars back within one ahead of another Wildcat timeout, 18-17.

McEwan-Llarenas tied the match at 19 apiece by launching a shot to the Wildcat backcourt. Both teams fought point for point. Weber St. The Wildcats went up 22-20 after a successful challenge and both teams earned a point ahead of a BYU timeout.

The Wildcats entered set point at 24-22 before the Cougars earned two more to tie the match and the teams traded points again. A Wildcat ball gone long gave the Cougars match point 26-25, and BYU won the match on the ensuing point, letting another Wildcat ball go outside to seal the win, 27-25.

Up Next
The Cougars will face Arizona State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse. Coverage of the match will begin at 7 p.m. MST on ESPN+.

BYU Head Coach Heather Olmstead
On winning the third set coming from behind
“It was huge. I mean, we talked about just staying in the present and focusing on what we could control, which was a serve. Everyone was going back and serving tough. We started serving tougher in the third set. We have been there all season and done that, so we are just going to stay focused, composed and come up with some big plays.”

On facing pressure in the third set
“You need to have that pressure and those types of tests. We are going to see that in the tournament and we saw it from Weber for sure. I thought the crowd got into it and that gave us some energy that was good for our team.”

Senior Outside Hitter Erin Livingston
On winning the third set coming from behind
“It was big, but we feel that pressure every day in practice. Honestly for me, and I am sure my teammates still feel natural in those moments and just want to be assertive and fearless.”

Senior Setter Whitney Bower
On facing pressure in the NCAA Tournament
“I think that because we have played with each other for so long and in the NCAA Tournament before, we have trust in each other. I trust my hitters to do their job and I am going to do my job. That makes it easier for everyone.”

On setting to her teammates
“I can see the fire in the eyes of all of my hitters and that is what I love about my job. I love my fearless hitters. Erin (Livingston) is an easy one to set, we can just lob it up and she puts the pressure on it.”