SAN FRANCISCO – Amy Boswell and No. 10 BYU women's volleyball handed San Francisco its first loss of the season, beating the Dons in four sets (25-23, 17-25, 25-21, 25-22) Thursday night at War Memorial Gym to start West Coast Conference play.
"I liked our team's fight tonight," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "It's always a battle on the road, and San Francisco played well. I'm proud of the way our team stayed together."
Boswell collected a team-high nine blocks to go along with 11 kills on a .556 clip. Alexa Gray had a match-high 18 kills, including 10 in the fourth set, while Veronica Jones chipped in nine kills and four blocks. Ciara Parker collected double-digit digs with 10, and Whitney Young Howard contributed six blocks to round out the defensive effort. Alohi Robins-Hardy and Camry Godfrey Willardson added 18 assists apiece in the win.
BYU (11-1, 1-0) took an early 4-2 lead in the first set from a Jaiden Achermann service ace. San Francisco (13-1, 0-1) kept things close, however, coming back to take a 10-9 lead on back-to-back Jessica Gaffney kills. The score remained close until a string of four-consecutive points from the Dons put them up 14-11, forcing a Cougar timeout. BYU followed that up with a 4-0 rally of its own to retake the lead, 17-16. The battle continued as the two sides traded points until a 3-0 San Francisco spurt propelled the Dons to a 22-20 advantage. A Boswell block and kill then helped put the Cougars ahead 23-22. Boswell then finished the closely-contested set for BYU 25-23 on another kill.
A Howard and Gray block gave the Cougars the first point of the second set. San Francisco quickly responded with its offensive attack to take an 8-4 advantage. BYU answered following a timeout to come back to even the score at 10-all on a Gray kill. The score remained neck-to-neck before a 10-1 Don rally, helped by several Cougar miscues, put San Francisco back up 22-15 late in the set. The Dons then evened the match 1-1, winning the set 25-17 on a BYU attack error.
A pair of Boswell blocks helped the Cougars go up 5-3 to start the third set. San Francisco continued to keep things close, using five-straight points to take a 10-8 advantage. Another Boswell kill evened the pivotal third set at 13 apiece before BYU retook the lead 17-15 on a soft-touch Gray kill. Back-to-back Boswell blocks gave the Cougars a four-point separation, up 23-19, forcing the Dons to take their final timeout of the set. Boswell then finished the set for BYU 25-21 on an ace.
San Francisco came rolling out of the gates in the fourth set, going up 4-0 following a trio of Cougar miscues. With BYU trailing 8-4, the Cougars went on a 4-1 rally to come back within a point at 9-8. The score remained neck-to-neck as a Willardson dump kill put BYU on top for the first time in the set, 15-14. A Jones kill then helped lengthen the Cougar advantage to three, 18-15, forcing the Dons to take their final timeout of the set. San Francisco then scored three unanswered points to tie things up at 18-all. Another Gray attack and kill kept BYU ahead at 23-20 and two more Gray kills ended the set and match 25-22.
The Cougars stay on the road Saturday when they travel to Santa Clara to face off against the Broncos at 1 p.m. PDT. The match will be streamed live on TheW.tv. Links to live stats and the video feed can be found on the BYU women's volleyball schedule page.