Cameron Muh | Posted: 16 Sep 2022 | Updated: 28 Sep 2022

15th-ranked BYU to host Utah Valley on Saturday

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Whitney Bower, Erin Livingston, Kate Grimmer and Heather Gneiting celebrate after scoring a point at Utah on September 15, 2022

PROVO, Utah — After three matches away from the Smith Fieldhouse, No. 15 BYU women’s volleyball returns home to host cross-town foe Utah Valley on Saturday.

The Cougars pulled out a four-set win over in-state rival Utah on Thursday night, recording a season-high 76 digs in the two hour and 25-minute battle. Also beating Utah State during the BYU Nike Invitational, BYU welcomes the reigning WAC champion Wolverines looking to improve to 3-0 against local competition this season.

No. 15 BYU vs. UVU

Erin Livingston continues to pace the 15th-ranked Cougars with a team-high 128 kills. The junior outside hitter tied her career-high of 20 kills, which she set against No. 10 Pitt two weeks ago, on Thursday at Utah. Middle blockers Heather Gneiting and Whitney Llarenas have 78 and 71 kills, respectively.

Whitney Bower has recorded 310 assists on the year, averaging an even 10 assists per set. The senior setter also leads the team in digs, with 81. Kate Grimmer is just behind, with 76 digs, followed by Kelsey Knudsen, who has totaled 73.

Llarenas and Gneiting have been a force to be reckoned with in the middle, putting down 35 and 33 total blocks, respectively. Gneiting leads the team with six solo blocks, and Grimmer has added 22 total blocks of her own. 

BYU head coach Heather Olmstead is 6-0 against the Wolverines during her tenure, going 2-0 in Provo and 4-0 in Orem. The two teams have not met in Provo since 2019.

Utah Valley (5-5, 0-0 WAC)

  • After going 2-0 at Harvard and Northeastern last weekend, the Wolverines have dropped two five-set matches at Utah State and to Weber State this week
  • Highlighted by the pair of wins in Massachusetts last week, UVU was riding a five-match win streak after losing three-straight to open season, including to No. 23 Kansas and at No. 22 Utah
  • A part of those early season wins and losses, the Wolverines were swept by West Coast Conference opponent Loyola Marymount in Salt Lake City, and beat Cal in four sets at home
  • Tori Dorius and Kazna Tanuvasa lead UVU in kills, landing 119 and 96, respectively. Bryton Nixon paces the Wolverines with 145 digs, while Natalie Palmer (198) and Abbie Miller (185) approach the 200-assist mark on the season.
  • Jules Fink (37) and Makayla Broadbent (32) have each sent back 30+ blocks this season, and four UVU players have recorded 11 or more service aces: Palmer (13), Tanuvasa (13), Miller (12) and Avery Shewell (11)
  • Head coach Sam Atoa is in his 24th season with UVU, going 318-247 since the Wolverines began competing at the Division I level in 2003
  • BYU leads the all-time series with UVU, 17-0. The Cougars swept the Wolverines last season and beat them in four sets during BYU’s lone non-conference match of the spring 2020-21 season. Both of those matches were held at UVU. 

Concluding the non-conference slate with Utah Valley, BYU will begin its final season of WCC competition next week, hosting Loyola Marymount in the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv app.

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