Cameron Muh | Posted: 5 Oct 2022 | Updated: 14 Oct 2022

No. 14 BYU continues WCC play, hosts Santa Clara

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Elyse Stowell rises up for attack against Utah State

PROVO, Utah — Coming home on a season-high win streak of six games, No. 14 BYU women's volleyball hosts Santa Clara in a Thursday night matchup as West Coast Conference (WCC) play continues. 

Moving up another spot in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll following the pair of wins, the Cougars (11-3, 4-0 WCC) have been ranked in the top-17 for 133-straight polls.

Earning a pair of wins at Portland and Gonzaga last weekend, BYU was led by outside hitter Elyse Stowell, who set a career-high in kills in both matches, recording 10 against the Pilots and 14 when the Cougars took on the Zags. Named WCC Defensive Player of the Week, middle blocker Heather Gneiting tallied seven blocks in each match, also carding 19 kills and two service aces. 

BYU has won 31-consecutive WCC matches, the third-longest streak in NCAA DI women's volleyball. Dating back to 2019, the Cougars have won 23-straight conference games at home. Under head coach Heather Olmstead, BYU is 114-9 in WCC play, with a 13-1 record against Santa Clara, including 8-0 in the Smith Fieldhouse. 

Thursday's matchup against the Broncos will also be a Pink Out game in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

No. 14 BYU vs. Santa Clara

The Cougars have swept the last four matchups with Santa Clara, including both games last season and during the spring 2020-21 season. Outside of a four-set loss in 2015, BYU has surrendered just three sets to Santa Clara with Olmstead at the helm.

BYU upped its season hitting percentage to .285 last weekend, moving the Cougars up to No. 15 nationally. BYU also ranks No. 19 in assists per set, averaging 12.81, and No. 21 in kills per set at 13.81. All three statistical marks continue to sit atop the WCC.  

Outside hitter Erin Livingston (192 kills), middle blocker Heather Gneiting (124 kills) and middle blocker Whitney Llarenas (112) pace the Cougars offensively. Llarenas' .384 hitting percentage is good for No. 34 nationally and is also a conference leader. Livingston's 3.96 kills per set and 10.25 attacks per set ranks second in the WCC. 

Setter Whitney Bower approaches the 500-assist mark on the season this week, totaling 494 on the year. Her 10.27 assist per set average is No. 2 in conference and No. 44 in the nation. 

Four BYU players have tallied 100 digs thus far: Bower (126), libero Kelsey Knudsen (117), opposite hitter Kate Grimmer (115) and libero Aria McComber (103). Gneiting and Llarenas remain strong at the net, sending back 60 and 43 total blocks, respectively. Grimmer has recorded 32 blocks herself. 

Santa Clara (6-10, 2-2 WCC)

  • After opening conference play with wins at San Francisco and Pacific, the Broncos dropped matches against LMU and Pepperdine last week
  • Santa Clara participated in four early season tournaments that included hosts Georgia, Grand Canyon and Northern Colorado, also hosting its own tournament as well
  • Julia Sangiacomo leads the Broncos and the WCC with 251 kills on the year. Her 4.48 kills per set average is also a conference-leader.
  • With 541 assists, Nive Tuileta paces Santa Clara. She also has 127 digs this season, good for second on the team.
  • Kat Georgiadis has recorded 235 digs, with Lia Okammor (31), Sangiacomo and Lexi Poppinga (23) highlighting the team in total blocks. 
  • In her fourth year with the Broncos, Erin Lindsey has posted a 44-50 record. Lindsey also spent five years as head coach at Dartmouth. 
  • BYU leads the all-time series with Santa Clara, 19-4. The Cougars swept both matchups last season.

Following the Thursday night matchup, the Cougars will host San Francisco on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv app.  

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