Natalie Orr | Posted: 10 Sep 2021 | Updated: 2 Oct 2021

No. 12 BYU starts Panther Challenge with a sweep over Bowling Green

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PITTSBURGH, Penn — No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball dominated Bowling Green State University at the Panther Challenge, sweeping the team in Pittsburgh, Penn. on Friday. 

In the Fitzgerald Field House, junior setter Whitney Bower paced the team with 31 assists and 14 digs. She also led the team with a .800 hitting percentage on her season-high four kills.

Opposite hitter Kenzie Koerber tallied 11 kills and three aces. Plus, junior middle blocker Heather Gneiting and freshman outside hitter Sophia Callahan both added eight kills. 

This is BYU’s second time sweeping the Falcons. The first time being back in 2012, when the teams faced each other in the Smith Fieldhouse. In 2013, the Falcons made a comeback in Ohio, topping the Cougars 3-2.

Right away, it was a tight match. The two traded points until 5-5. Koerber snagged the first kill for the Cougars. Gneiting followed with two kills of her own. The momentum continued with back-to-back kills by middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg and outside hitter Erin Livingston, opening the gap to 12-7. 

The Falcons closed the five-point gap when BGU’s outside hitter Kat Mandly had two kills, bringing the score to 13-10. However, three kills by Koerber, two kills by Callahan and a few errors on BGU’s part set the Cougars on a 7-0 run. Additional kills by Callahan, Livingston and Gneiting, plus an ace from Koerber, would seal a set win for BYU, 25-13

Koerber set the tone, immediately racking up three kills. An ace by Gneiting brought the score to 4-1. Rallying back-and-forth, BGU upped its kill count, along with four service errors by BYU, tying it up 10-10. This lit a fire under the Cougars. Three consecutive kills later by Gneiting and Bower widened the gap. Tacking on three service aces and a .361 clip, compared to Bowling Green’s .139, BYU managed a 25-16 win.

The kills continued to come quickly and often from BYU, starting off the set with kills from Eschenberg, Gneiting, Koerber and Bower. Sitting at 6-2, the Falcons continued to fight, staying within four points of the Cougars up until 21-16. Eschenberg managed two successive kills in the final moments of the game. She closed out the set with a block, aided by Livingston. In the end, BYU trumped Bowling Green 25-19.

Up next, the Cougars face No. 4 Pitt in Pittsburgh, Penn. at the Fitzgerald Field House. The match will take place on Friday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. EDT.