Cameron Muh | Posted: 11 Oct 2022 | Updated: 26 Oct 2022

No. 12 BYU visits Moraga to play Saint Mary's

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Erin Livingston celebrates with No. 14 women's volleyball in-between points against San Francisco

PROVO, Utah — Winners of eight-straight, No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball will head to Moraga this week to take on Saint Mary’s in a Thursday night matchup.

The Cougars moved up two spots to No. 12 in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll and have been ranked in the top-17 for 134-consecutive polls.

Reeling off a pair of sweeps against Santa Clara and San Francisco last week, BYU improved to 13-3 overall and 6-0 in West Coast Conference (WCC) play. Outside hitter Erin Livingston paced the Cougars with 26 kills, for an average of 4.33 per set, on a .489 clip. 

Middle blocker Whitney Llarenas was the second BYU player in as many weeks to earn WCC Defensive Player of the Week honors after fellow middle Heather Gneiting won the nod last week. Llarenas sent back 10 blocks between the two matches last week, including a career-high eight against the Dons. 

BYU has won 33 WCC matches in a row, the third-longest streak in NCAA DI women's volleyball. The Cougars are also riding a 17-game road win streak in conference play. 

No. 12 BYU @ Saint Mary’s

The Cougars have swept five of the last six matchups with the Gaels. Dating back to 2014, BYU has won 16-straight games against Saint Mary’s, dropping just six sets to the Gaels during that span as well. 

Setting hitting percentage season-highs in back-to-back games last week (.429 vs. Santa Clara and .506 vs. San Francisco), the Cougars improved their hitting percentage to .301 last weekend, a mark that has BYU at No. 8 in the country. The Cougars also rank No. 10 in kills per set (14.11) and No. 15 in assists per set (13.09). All three statistical marks remain WCC leaders. 

Continuing to lead the team offensively are outside hitter Erin Livingston (218 kills), middle blocker Heather Gneiting (140 kills) and middle blocker Whitney Llarenas (125 kills). Llarenas upped her hitting percentage to .399 last week and ranks No. 23 nationally in the category while still leading the conference.

Livingston’s 4.04 kills per set and setter Whitney Bower’s 10.48 assists per set are good for second in the WCC. Bower has recorded 566 assists this season, and her per set average sits at No. 15 nationwide. 

Bower continues to lead the team in digs, at 139, with libero Kelsey Knudsen (131), opposite hitter Kate Grimmer (124) and libero Aria McComber (123) right behind. With 52 total blocks, Gneiting paces the Cougars at the net. Llarenas has tallied 49 total blocks, and Grimmer has sent back 33 of her own.

Saint Mary’s (6-8, 3-3 WCC)

  • The Gaels opened conference play with wins at Portland, at Gonzaga and against San Francisco, but have dropped three-straight at Pacific, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine
  • In non-conference play, Saint Mary’s picked up wins against Penn, CSUN and UC Davis
  • Hawley Harrer and Genevieve Bane lead the Gaels in kills with 170 and 113, respectively, with Ella Sandt recording 376 assists on the year
  • Makenna Joyce (179 digs), Megan Chandler Allred (103 digs) and Sandt (102 digs) are the three Gaels with 100+ digs this season
  • Five Saint Mary’s players have double-digit blocks on the year: Kjersti Strong (41), Kristen Erland (40), Harrer (37), Bane (27) and Sandt (14)
  • Head coach Rob Browning has been with the Gaels for 17 seasons, posting a 254-225 record in that time
  • BYU leads the all-time series with Santa Clara, 21-6. The Cougars took both matchups last season, winning 3-1 in Moraga and sweeping the Gaels in Provo.

After spending Thursday in Moraga, BYU will head to Stockton to play at Pacific on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 12 p.m. PDT. The game will be streamed on the WCC Network.

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