Cougars take dōTERRA Classic Championship with sweep of UNLV
PROVO, Utah — BYU took home the 2021 dōTERRA Classic Championship with a 3-0 sweep over UNLV Saturday night, in front of another huge home crowd.
"One thing that makes our team so special is how balanced we are at every position," said BYU middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg. "We had great passing tonight, and none of us can hit effectively if we don't have good passing, and Whitney [Bower] put up great sets."
Eschenberg tallied eight kills on a .583 clip and added a service ace, four digs and three blocks to her stat line. She was joined by five Cougar teammates with three or more kills; namely Erin Livingston with nine, Heather Gneiting with 8, Kenzie Koerber with seven, Taylen Ballard-Nixon with four and Bower with three. Bower also added 30 assists and seven digs to be named the dōTERRA Classic Player of the Tournament.
"It's super hard for opponents to know how to defend us," Eschenberg said. "If we can score from every position, it's pretty awesome, and our depth really opens up other people. It is really fun to watch some people go off one night and others the next night, especially because we all feel genuinely happy for each other, because we all want to see each other succeed."
The Cougars outhit the Rebels .375 to .074 in the match and recorded 40 kills, five service aces, 42 digs and seven blocks in the three-set sweep of the 2021 MWC Champion Rebels.
The victory came in front of 4,453 in attendance in the Smith Fieldhouse. It was the ninth most for a women's volleyball match in program history. The night before, for BYU's matchup with Long Island University, the Fieldhouse had 4,823 fans in attendance, the sixth-most all time.
BYU got off to a hot start and a 4-1 lead to start the first set before UNLV found its groove. BYU used a three-point run to extend the lead to five at the media timeout, midway through the first set. Following a kill from UNLV, the Cougars went on a 14-5 run, including three kills, a service ace and a block from Gneiting to take the first set by a score of 25-14.
The Cougars started the second set on a 6-3 run to give BYU an early lead, then opened a five-point lead thanks to two kills from Eschenberg to make it 11-6. The Cougars outhit the Rebels .269 to .000 in the second set. They recorded 12 kills on 26 attempts, three service aces and a block to take the set 25-16.
The Rebels and Cougars traded points to start the third before BYU put together a 12-2 run to take a 14-5 lead, forcing UNLV to take a timeout. The Cougar run was fueled by kills from Livingston, Koerber and Gneiting. The Cougars came out of the timeout and scored five of the next seven points to extend the lead to 10. A stuff block from Kate Grimmer and Eschenberg sealed the 3-0 sweep for the Cougars.
2021 dōTERRA Classic All- Tournament Team
Player of the Tournament: Whitney Bower (BYU)
Heather Gneiting (BYU)
Kenzie Koerber (BYU)
Kate Brennan (UNLV)
Shelby Capllonch (UNLV)
Raegan Ashby (SUU)
Jovana Stekovic (LIU)
The Cougars next take on Weber State to start up the BYU Invitational Presented by Zion's Bank, on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. MDT. The match will be televised on BYUtv and will also be available on BYUtv.org and the BYUtv app. BYU also takes on Dixie State on Friday and Michigan State on Saturday.
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