No. 14 Cougars sweep Broncos behind .429 clip
PROVO, Utah — No. 14 BYU women’s volleyball earned its seventh sweep of the season, downing Santa Clara 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-12) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday night.
“We’ve got a great team,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “They came in focused today. I loved the energy in the gym and the support for breast cancer awareness. The girls wanted to play well and they did, so I’m proud of them.”
The matchup with the Broncos was a pink out game in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Both teams wore pink shirts during warmups, with BYU players donning pink ribbons in the hair and on their shoes in honor of those fighting against cancer.
After going down 5-1 in the first set, the Cougars (12-3, 5-0 WCC) held the Broncos to just eight points during the remainder of set one to take the set 25-13. BYU took the momentum from the first set and carried it into the rest of the match. Hitting just .250 in set one, the Cougars rebounded by recording hitting percentages of .571 and .517 in the second and third sets. Their .438 clip set a season high for hitting percentage, besting the previous high of .405 against Rider on August 26th.
Erin Livingston led the Cougars with 16 kills on a .520 clip, her highest hitting percentage of the season. The junior outside hitter also added four digs and a service ace to cap off her night.
Whitney Bower also set a season-high hitting percentage as she carded five kills on six swings for an .833 hitting percentage. The setter from Nampa, Idaho also added 37 assists, eight digs and three service aces in the three-set sweep.
Along with Whitney Bower’s three aces, Alyssa Montoya added two of her own, with Livingston, Aria McComber and Kelsey Knudsen also recording aces to combine for eight on the night, tying a season high for the Cougars.
The Cougars dropped the first three points of the match before getting on the board with the Broncos leading 3-1. After a Kate Grimmer kill, Santa Clara scored two-straight to stretch its early lead to 5-1.
After dropping five of the first six points, BYU took seven of the next ten points to tie the set at eight. Two kills from Heather Gneiting, three from Livingston and back-to-back kills from Elyse Stowell contributed to the 7-3 Cougar run.
A dump kill from Whitney Bower and a service ace from McComber gave BYU its first lead of the match, 10-9. After a Bronco kill, the Cougars rattled off three-straight to open up a 13-10 lead with a kill from Gneiting and back-to-back aces from Montoya. Knudsen recorded the fourth ace of the set for the Cougars to extend to the BYU lead to four.
Out of a Santa Clara timeout, the Cougars scored three-straight courtesy of a Livingston kill, a Whitney Bower service ace and a Bronco error to take a 20-13 lead which led to another SCU timeout.
BYU came back from the timeout and capped off a 9-0 run to close out the set with a kill from Livingston and two more service aces from Whitney Bower. The Cougars recorded 14 kills, 15 digs and seven service aces en route to a 25-13 set one win.
BYU took an early 5-3 lead in set two with kills from Gneiting and Livingston before Whitney Bower carded back-to-back kills, one a dump to the back corner and the other on an overpass, to give the Cougars a 7-3 advantage.
Consecutive kills from Whitney Llarenas and Livingston, followed by a Grimmer and Llarenas block stretched the lead to 10-4, forcing the first Santa Clara timeout of the set.
BYU took two of the first three points out of the timeout, which included the eighth Cougar ace of the night from Livingston, to take a 12-5 lead. After scoring three more consecutive points, the Broncos used their second timeout of the set with BYU leading 15-7.
After the break, McComber immediately recorded the ninth BYU ace of the night, which set the season high for service aces in a match. Kills from Grimmer, Stowell and Kate Prior added to the 9-2 Cougar run that stretched the lead to 21-9.
An Eden Bower kill, followed by a Llarenas and Eden Bower block gave the Cougars set point, which was put away on a kill by Sophia Callahan to take a 2-0 set lead.
The Cougars and Broncos traded points with the set knotted at four before BYU took eight of the next ten points to open up a 12-6 lead before Santa Clara took the first timeout of the set. Llarenas tallied three kills during the run, with Livingston and Grimmer carding two of their own.
Out of the timeout, the Cougars went on an 13-6 run to close the match and earn BYU’s 12th win of the season. The game-sealing run included three Livingston kills, two from Gneiting, one from Whitney Bower, Stowell and Callahan, as well as a Gneiting and Callahan roof to seal the win.
The Cougars will next 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.
Former BYU women’s volleyball All-American Amy Boswell Usevitch will be inducted into the WCC Hall of Honor on Saturday…