Cameron Muh | Posted: 28 Sep 2022 | Updated: 6 Oct 2022

No. 15 BYU visits Portland on first WCC road trip

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Whitney Bower, Erin Livingston, Kate Grimmer and Heather Gneiting in between points against Pepperdine

PROVO, Utah — Extending its win streak to four games after two wins to open West Coast Conference (WCC) play, No. 15 BYU women’s volleyball hits the road for the second time this season, heading west to play at Portland on Thursday.

The Cougars improved to 9-3 overall after sweeping Loyola Marymount and beating No. 17 Pepperdine in four sets last week. The victory over the Waves was BYU head coach Heather Olmstead’s 200th-career win. She is the fastest in NCAA DI women’s volleyball history to reach 200 wins, doing so in just 225 games. 

Moving up a spot in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll following the pair of wins, BYU has been ranked in the top-17 for 132-straight polls. 

No. 15 BYU @ Portland

BYU is 113-9 in WCC play under Olmstead, with a 13-1 record against Portland during her tenure, including going 7-1 at the Chiles Center. The Cougars’ only loss to the Pilots was a five-setter in 2016. 

Putting down a team-high 163 kills this season, junior outside hitter Erin Livingston averages 3.98 kills per set, putting her at No. 48 in the country. Senior middle blocker Heather Gneiting is second on the team with 105 kills, also sending back 46 total blocks. 

Senior setter Whitney Bower has recorded 409 assists for an average of 9.98 per set. She also has 44 kills and 13 blocks on the year. Bower and senior opposite hitter Kate Grimmer lead the team in digs with 110 and 101, respectively. 

Graduate middle blocker Whitney Llarenas, who set a career-high with 13 kills in the Pepperdine match, is 47th in the nation and first in the WCC with a .378 hitting percentage. Llarenas has 38 total blocks on the year as well.

Portland (8-6, 1-2 WCC)

  • The Pilots played at Loyola Marymount on Tuesday night and were swept by the Lions (25-11, 25-19, 25-22)
  • Portland went 1-1 to open WCC play last week, dropping a five-setter to Saint Mary’s and beating Pacific in five sets
  • A common opponent between the Cougars and Pilots is Utah State. BYU swept the Aggies during the second week of the season and Portland was swept by Utah State the week after. 
  • Jayde Harris (184), Maui Robins (127), Noelani Helm (101) make up three Pilot hitters with 100+ kills. Helm and Mareena Catalan have teamed up to lead the team in assists, dishing out 295 and 202, respectively.
  • Grace Zilbert (192) and Helm (149) have both recorded triple-digit digs on the year, while Emma Swett (45) and Una Rajkovic (41) pace Portland in blocks.
  • Four Pilots have double-digit service aces this season: Harris (19), Catalan (18), Zilbert (18) and Helm (12). Portland leads the conference in aces per set, at 1.90, a mark good for No. 33 in the country. 
  • Megan Burton is in her third season as head coach with the Pilots, posting a 15-40 record in that time
  • BYU leads the all-time series with Portland, 21-1. The Cougars swept both matchups last season.

The Cougars will continue their Pacific Northwest road trip after the matchup with Portland, traveling to Spokane to take on Gonzaga on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 12 p.m. PDT.

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