Cougars Complete Road Sweep Over Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. – No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball swept Portland (25-23, 26-24, 25-22) at the Chiles Center for the second-straight day to complete the road sweep over the Pilots.
Middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg led the Cougars with 11 kills on a .474 clip. Outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon contributed nine kills of her own while recording a career-high four aces. Setter Whitney Bower ended the match with 34 assists, eight digs and a service ace.
Defensive specialist Grace Wee finished with a career-high 11 digs while libero Madi Allen posted double-digit digs for the second match in a row with 10. Allen also added a pair of aces to her stat line.
BYU (2-0, 2-0 WCC) opened the match with a 3-2 edge over Portland (0-2, 0-2 WCC) behind kills from opposite Kate Grimmer and Ballard-Nixon. After the two teams battled back and forth, aces by Ballard-Nixon and middle blocker Whitney Llarenas helped give BYU a three-point advantage, 13-10. Eschenberg had five kills on five attempts in the set to help the Cougars hold off the Pilots and win the first game 25-23.
After trailing 7-5, two aces by Ballard-Nixon and a pair of kills by Eschenberg gave BYU a 12-9 lead. Allen added an ace of her own to increase the Cougars’ advantage to four points, 14-10. Portland answered with a 7-0 run to retake the lead, 17-14. Four kills by Ballard-Nixon late in the set helped BYU comeback and take the second game, 26-24.
Portland jumped out to a 10-5 advantage to start the third set. Outside hitter Leilani Dodson had a pair of kills as the Cougars outscored the Pilots 7-2 to tie it up at 12-all. Eschenberg added two kills of her own to give BYU a 15-14 edge. Ballard-Nixon’s fourth ace of the afternoon improved the Cougars' lead to 17-15. Trailing 22-21, BYU scored four-straight points to clinch set three, 25-22, and complete the road sweep over Portland.
BYU’s next opponent will be Gonzaga after the Cougars’ two-match series with Santa Clara, originally scheduled for Feb. 2-3, was postponed due to the Broncos delaying the start of their season two weeks. BYU is currently scheduled to host Gonzaga for two matches at the Smith Fieldhouse Feb. 9-10.
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