No. 14 BYU Sweeps NM State in NCAA First Round
PROVO, Utah — No. 14 seed BYU women’s volleyball swept New Mexico State (25-7, 25-23, 25-19) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday.
"Congratulations to New Mexico State on a great season," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "I liked the way we served tough tonight and took good swings. I'm proud of the way we stayed together when we were down."
Solid play across the board gave the Cougars the advantage as they made quick work of the Aggies. Senior McKenna Miller led the way offensively with 13 kills, posting a .379 hitting percentage to go along with three service aces and four blocks. Freshman Kate Grimmer also contributed 10 kills on .667 hitting, a service ace, three digs and two blocks; her hitting percentage is the third-highest in an NCAA Tournament match by a BYU player in the rally scoring era.
BYU also tied a team record for the second-highest amount of service aces in a rally scoring era tournament match with eight and set the third-highest mark with a .386 team hitting percentage.
New Mexico State kept it close at the beginning before BYU put together an incredible 16-0 run to go up 24-6. The Cougars hit an excellent .520, good for the best tournament hitting percentage in a set in program history, behind kills from five different players. BYU’s defense held its opponent to only seven points in the set, the lowest point total in a 25-point set this season for the Cougars. Whitney Bower dropped two service aces to give BYU the win, 25-7.
Neither team seemed to be able to pull away in a tightly contested set that featured seven ties. The Cougar offense was led by Miller, who had six kills. The set was tied at 21-21 before Grimmer dropped a clutch kill and service ace to take the lead, 23-21. A kill from Miller ultimately dropped NM State, 25-23.
The Cougars battled back from three different three-point deficits in this set. Miller was huge in shifting the momentum back to BYU as she recorded three out of four points in the middle of the set, posting two kills in a row and a service ace to make the score 13-12. The Cougars did not look back as they put together a 7-0 run to put the Aggies away for good. Miller dropped two more aces late and Heather Gneiting knocked down the final point with a kill to complete the sweep, 25-19.
The Cougars move on to the Second Round against rival Utah at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. MT. The winning team will advance to play in the Sweet 16.