PROVO, Utah – Senior Ciara Parker led No. 11 BYU women’s volleyball with a season-high 31 digs to defeat Pepperdine in four sets (30-32, 25-9, 25-21, 25-23) on Senior Night, Tuesday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“I'm just happy for the team and everyone in the crowd who was a part of tonight,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. ”It was a hard-fought battle and a total and complete team effort. I couldn't be more proud of the girls staying focused and staying in the present. The girls really wanted it, so I'm just happy for them.”
Senior outside hitter Alexa Gray recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 29 kills on 75 attempts to go along with 12 digs. Alohi Robins-Hardy had 38 assists and two kills while Amy Boswell and Whitney Young Howard added a team-high six blocks apiece with Boswell recording 14 kills. Senior setter Camry Godfrey Willardson had 14 assists and five blocks while Danelle Parady contributed double-digit digs with 10.
BYU (26-3, 16-2 West Coast Conference) recorded 60 assists and 81 digs as a team while hitting at a .223 clip. The Cougars have now won their last 24-straight matches played at the Smith Fieldhouse. The 2015 senior class finishes with just one loss on Elaine Michaelis Court and a 49-1 record at home.
Pepperdine (17-14, 8-10 WCC) opened the first set with a two-point lead before Cosy Burnett recorded a kill to start the scoring for BYU. The Cougars then went on a 4-0 run with a kill from Gray and a block from Boswell to make the score 4-2. After trading points, the Waves took a 10-9 lead before Gray had a kill to bring the Cougars within one at 14-13. Pepperdine then went on a 5-1 rally to make the score 19-14, forcing a BYU timeout. Trailing 23-16, the Cougars mounted an improbable comeback with an 8-1 run to tie the score at 24-all with kills by Gray, Boswell and Burnett and an ace from Parker. Despite three set points for BYU, the Waves held on to win the set 32-30.
The Cougars opened the second set 7-1 with three kills from Gray and kills from Burnett and Boswell. Following a Pepperdine timeout, Makenna Santiago had a service ace and BYU continued its offensive attack with a 5-1 run to make the score 12-2. After Pepperdine scored twice, the Cougars answered with a 10-2 run, that included an ace from Robins-Hardy, to build a 16-point lead to bring the score to 22-6. Boswell and Willardson combined for a block to win the set for BYU in dominating fashion, 25-9.
In the third set, the Cougars trailed 3-1 before tying the score at five with a kill from Parady. BYU stayed within striking distance of the Waves and a block by Gray and Howard gave the Cougars their first lead of the set at 11-10. A 5-1 run then put Pepperdine back on top, forcing BYU to take a timeout, down 16-12. The Cougars answered with a five-consecutive points to tie the score at 16 apiece, which was quickly followed by a timeout from the Waves. Pepperdine established a 19-16 lead with three unanswered points and BYU took its final timeout of the set. Boswell had a kill and a block to cut the Waves' lead down to two at 21-19. With Boswell serving, the Cougars went on a 6-0 run to take the set 25-21.
A block by Howard and Gray started the fourth set and helped BYU establish a 6-3 lead. Pepperdine tied the score at six and the teams then traded points before the Cougars built a three-point lead at 13-10. BYU went on a 6-2 rally, punctuated by a block from Boswell and Jones, to make the score 19-12. After a 6-1 run by the Waves, the Cougars called a timeout, up with a two-point advantage at 20-18. With kills from Gray, Howard and Robins-Hardy, BYU built a 23-20 lead before Pepperdine called its final timeout of the set. The Waves pulled within one, but it wasn't enough as Gray spiked the ball for a kill to win the set 25-23.
BYU next awaits the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Selection Show Sunday, Nov. 29, at 9 p.m. EST, which will be broadcast on ESPNU. BYU receives the automatic bid for winning the West Coast Conference outright. The Cougars look to extend a postseason-winning streak after reaching the regional semifinals in each of the last three seasons, as well as the national runner-up spot a year ago.