Key blocks lead BYU to win over San Diego
PROVO, Utah – No. 1 BYU had a season-high 16 blocks, including a number of key stops in the fourth set, as the Cougars downed San Diego (25-19, 25-15, 22-25, 25-20) Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
With the win, the Cougars (23-0, 13-0 West Coast Conference) kept their undefeated record intact in front of 5,082 in attendance, the second-largest women’s volleyball crowd ever at BYU.
“I love the way we fought tonight,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “We got our block going and our middles were a big part of that. Offensively we were pretty solid and just kept swinging.”
Miller added five blocks and three digs while senior Roni Jones-Perry added 18 kills of her own with 13 digs. Freshman Heather Gneiting had a career-high 12 blocks in addition to seven kills while senior Lyndie Haddock-Eppich led all players with 44 assists to go with 16 digs and five blocks.
BYU recovered from a couple of early three-point San Diego (13-10, 10-3 WCC) leads to go back and forth through the middle of the set. With some breathing room from San Diego errors, the Cougars got a kill from Gneiting and both a block and a kill from Miller to go up 22-16 and clear the way for a 25-19 result.
San Diego chipped away at an early deficit and trailed BYU by just one point at 14-13. But the Cougars proceeded to go on an 11-2 run to close out the set. Two late kills by Miller and an ace by Jones-Perry helped BYU win comfortably, 25-15.
The Cougars played from behind for most of the third set before tying the score at 20-20. A pair of attack errors and a service error pulled the Toreros in the lead before a kill by San Diego's Addie Picha cemented the 25-22 win. The set was the second San Diego has taken against BYU this season and are the only two sets surrendered by the Cougars in WCC action this year.
The Toreros again played BYU tough, going up by five points as late as 14-9. The Cougars slowly clawed back and scored a game-changing point down 18-16. Cougar blockers stuffed five-straight San Diego attempts, finally scoring on culminating block from Miller and Gneiting. Back-to-back kills by Miller and an ace by senior Sydnie Martindale gave BYU a 22-19 lead.
With BYU up 23-20, a line judge called a Jones-Perry kill attempt out. But after Olmstead asked for a video review, the call was overturned. On match point, Gneiting ended the match with a final kill.
The Cougars stay home next week to host their final two games of the regular season and the chance to clinch at least a share of the WCC title. BYU will first play Santa Clara on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. and San Francisco on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 1 p.m. Thursday's game will be shown live on BYUtv while the Saturday contest will be shown on TheW.tv.
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