No. 16 BYU sweeps LMU to begin final WCC campaign
PROVO, Utah — No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball swept LMU (25-23, 25-18, 25-21) on Thursday night in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars opened their last run in the West Coast Conference with a win while improving to 8-3 overall on the season.
Junior Erin Livingston led the way for BYU with 12 kills, while seniors Whitney Llarenas and Heather Gneiting had eight and seven. Senior Whitney Bower contributed 28 assists and eight digs to the team’s performance, which saw the Cougars hit .300 on the evening. LMU hit .226 and registered 29 errors.
“We like to talk about staying in the present,” Llarenas said. “We just focus on the next ball, doing our jobs and being assertive. I think we really did a good job implementing that tonight.”
The teams traded points throughout the set, beginning with the score reaching 10-10. BYU was aided during the opening stretch by three kills from Livingston, three LMU service errors and an ace from Gneiting.
Both sides continued to trade points until the set was at 16-all, where LMU found separation with a kill by Audrey Klemp and two blocks from Phoebe Awoleye and Rose Booth to give the Lions a 19-16 lead.
LMU continued to hold the lead off a pair of BYU attack errors. The Lions then had two errors of their own, allowing the Cougars to cut the lead to 21-19. BYU continued its run with two kills and a block to take a 23-22 lead.
Freshman Eden Bower added another kill to give the Cougars a chance to serve for the set win holding a 24-22 lead. LMU survived the first point, but a Llarenas kill on the next gave BYU the 25-23 set win.
The Cougars ended the set on a 9-3 run. While LMU outhit BYU .276 to .219 in the frame, the Lions had nine hitting errors. The Cougars were led by Livingston, who had six kills in the set. Llarenas had four, including two during BYU’s final six points, on a .500 hitting percentage.
BYU started the second set with a quick 3-0 lead after two LMU errors and a Whitney Bower kill. From there the teams started trading points like the first set, with BYU’s three-point lead holding throughout.
Livingston then helped the Cougars stretch their lead to five. Her two kills and an ace forced an LMU timeout with the score at 14-9.
The Cougars continued to expand their lead, aided by LMU’s 18th hitting error of the night and a block from Eden Bower and Gneiting. The Lions then cut BYU’s 19-12 lead down to 19-14, but that was as close as they would get. Two more LMU errors and kills from Gneiting and Eden Bower put BYU ahead 24-15.
After three straight LMU points, Livingston’s fourth kill of the set—and 10th of the match—saw BYU secure the 25-18 set win. The Cougars hit .417 in the set, compared to LMU’s .148. Whitney Bower, Eden Bower and senior Kate Grimmer all had two kills in the frame.
With the score knotted at seven, BYU took the lead on a 4-0 run. Gneiting and Livingston had kills, senior Aria McComber had her second ace of the set and Gneiting combined with Whitney Bower for a block to put the Cougars ahead 11-7.
An LMU timeout allowed the Lions to go on a run of their own, with three-straight kills bringing the score to 11-10 for the Cougars.
The momentum then swung back to the home side, with three different Cougars combining to force another LMU timeout with the score at 15-11. The run was punctuated by Livingston recording a solo block, with Llarenas and Grimmer contributing kills.
LMU did not go down without a fight, registering three consecutive kills en route to tying the set at 21. BYU then went on a run of its own, ending the set and match with four straight points.
The 25-21 set win was secured off an ace from Whitney Bower, BYU’s fifth of the night. Gneiting had four kills in the set, while Grimmer and Llarenas had three each.
The Cougars return to the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon for their third-straight home match. The contest with No. 17 Pepperdine begins at 1 p.m. MDT and will be broadcast on BYUtv and the BYUtv app.