Cougars Dominant From Service Line, Sweep Lions
PROVO, Utah – No. 12 BYU women's volleyball totaled a season-high 11 aces in its sweep of Loyola Marymount (25-17, 27-25, 25-23) on Wednesday night in the Smith Fieldhouse.
After recording a career high of four aces to help BYU win the first match of the two-match series against the Lions, junior setter Tayler Hifo matched the previous night's performance with another four aces. Sophomore setter Whitney Bower also contributed to the Cougars' barrage from the service line with a season-high three aces while freshman outside hitter Leilani Dodson added a pair of her own aces.
"I'm really proud of the team, especially in that third set being down 17-20 and having our backs against the wall," said BYU head coach Heather Olmstead. "Tayler Tausinga Hifo went back and served some great serves to get some scoring going for us. It feels good knowing that we can be resilient and I'm proud of their fight tonight."
Senior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon finished with a team-high of 16 kills on a .424 clip, five digs and an ace. Sophomore opposite Kate Grimmer contributed 10 kills on a .562 hitting percentage while adding two digs and two blocks. Senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg hit .500 on the night while tallying nine kills. Freshman libero Madi Allen recorded double-digit digs for the sixth time this season, ending the match with a team-high 13.
BYU (7-0, 6-0 WCC) went on an early 3-0 run to open the first set with kills from freshman outside hitter Erin Livingston, Ballard-Nixon and Eschenberg. LMU (3-5, 3-5 WCC) struggled to keep up as Hifo dropped three-straight aces to help the Cougars take an 18-8 advantage. The Lions responded with a 6-2 run but couldn't overcome the deficit as kills by Ballard-Nixon and Grimmer ended the set, 25-17.
LMU began the second set with an early lead of 7-4. A pair of BYU blocks tied the game at 12-12 with neither team gaining much separation for the remainder of the set. With the score tied at 25-all, Bower clinched the set for BYU with back-to-back aces, 27-25.
Ballard-Nixon and Grimmer each had a pair of kills as the two teams battled to a 12-12 tie to start the third game. The Lions capitalized on a couple of Cougar errors to pull ahead 22-18. Two kills by Ballard-Nixon and an ace from Hifo fueled a 6-0 BYU run to make the score 24-22. Grimmer completed the comeback with a kill to clinch the sweep, 25-23.
The Cougars will next travel to Malibu, California to take on Pepperdine in a two-match series on Feb. 23-24. Both matches are set for 7 p.m. PST at Firestone Fieldhouse and will be broadcast on the WCC Network.
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