No. 4 BYU Propels Past Rival Utah Into Sweet 16
PROVO, Utah – Fifty-four team kills led No. 4 seed BYU to a dominating 3-0 match win (25-16, 25-21, 25-18) over in-state rival Utah on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
With the victory, BYU (29-1) advanced to a seventh-straight Sweet 16 and extended a home match NCAA Tournament win streak to 19 games dating back to 1994.
"What a great match to be a part of," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "Utah played well and I want to congratulate them on a great season. I'm really proud of the entire team effort and the energy they brought."
Senior Roni Jones-Perry contributed 20 kills on a .471 hit percentage while freshman Heather Gneiting had 12 kills hitting .688. Freshman Madelyn Robinson and sophomore Kennedy Eschenberg each had seven kills. Coming into the tournament as the top hitting team in the nation with a .318 average, the Cougars hit .410 as a team against the Utes (19-14).
Senior Lyndie Haddock-Eppich notched 45 assists, eight digs and two aces while senior Danelle Stetler provided crucial defense with 12 digs.
"Lyndie set a great match and offensively we were so smart with our swings," Olmstead said. "I'm so impressed by Roni and how she works to get better; she was so fun to watch tonight. We are thrilled to be able to advance and get back in the gym on Monday."
Click here for a photo essay of the match and see the links below for complete stats and press conference quotes.
BYU came out swinging in the first set and took its first two points off of Jones-Perry kills on the outside. Utah took a slim 11-10 lead midway through the set, but BYU took off on a 7-0 run to jump ahead 17-11. The run included three kills by Jones-Perry and one by Eschenberg. A dump kill by Haddock-Eppich finished off the set, 25-16.
BYU and Utah stayed within five points throughout the second set until back-to-back aces by Haddock-Eppich put the Cougars up, 16-10. The Utes brought the score within three at 18-15, but BYU maintained distance and finished off the set at 25-21.
Utah began the third set with an ace, and took a 2-0 lead but BYU came back with an 8-0 run to pull ahead 9-3, including two kills each from Eschenberg and Jones-Perry. The Cougars maintained the lead, ultimately claiming the set and the match on a block by Haddock and Eschenberg, 25-18.
The Cougars win came before a crowd of 5,183, the second-largest home crowd in program history behind the Utah game earlier this year.
BYU will next play Florida on Friday, Dec. 7. No. 5 Texas and Michigan will play in the other Provo Regional game. The Cougars are hosting a regional for the first time since 1986 when the tournament had only 32 teams. Times and broadcast information will be announced Sunday afternoon.
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