SAN DIEGO – No. 10 BYU women’s volleyball lost in five sets to No. 24 San Diego (18-25, 25-23, 24-26, 25-16, 15-9) in the battle of West Coast Conference leaders on Friday.
“We played well in spurts, but we had a hard time scoring at the pins,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “We’ll get back in the gym and work to get better so we can finish conference strong at home.”
The Cougars (22-4, 13-2) were led by middle blockers Heather Gneiting and Kennedy Eschenberg against the Toreros (21-5, 14-1). Gneiting had a team-high 11 kills and six blocks while Eschenberg added nine kills with no errors and six blocks.
Senior Mary Lake was all over the court the entire night, finishing with 19 digs to go with four assists. Freshman Whitney Bower again filled the stat sheet, recording 34 assists, 11 digs, six kills, two blocks and an ace.
BYU held San Diego to .094 hitting and held a commanding lead throughout a first set win. Two kills by Gneiting an ace from Tayler Tausinga were part of a 6-2 run that gave the Cougars an 8-3 lead. BYU led by as many as nine at 17-8 after an ace from Miller, finishing the set when Miller put down a kill then dropped another ace to end the set, 25-18.
The second set was much tighter with San Diego holding the upper hand at 22-19 late in the set. The Cougars scored the next four points on a pair of Gneiting kills and two Torero attack errors to go up 23-22. But San Diego reeled off the final three points to tie the match up with a 25-23 win.
The Cougars held a 13-9 advantage midway through set three and held the lead at 24-21 on an ace by Taylen Ballard-Nixon. But San Diego made things interesting by staving off the Cougars’ set point, tying the set back up at 24-24 after an ace. BYU stayed calm, however, finishing the Toreros off with another kill by Gneiting and an attack error to win, 26-24.
San Diego went on a 4-0 run to go up 8-5 after three-straight attack errors by BYU. The Toreros never let up, winning the set 25-16.
The fifth set was more of the same as San Diego never trailed in the final set. Gneiting and Kate Grimmer combined for a block to bring BYU to within three at 8-5, but the Toreros pulled away by scoring the next four points. The Cougars scored the ensuing three points to make it 12-8, but San Diego closed out the match comfortably, winning 15-9.
BYU will next take on Portland in the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. MT before facing Gonzaga at home on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 1 p.m. MT.
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