Livingston leads No. 17 Cougars to sweep of Waves
Photo credit: Pepperdine Athletics/Sarah Otteman
MALIBU, Calif. — Backed by outside hitter Erin Livingston’s second 20 kill effort in as many games, No. 17 BYU women’s volleyball swept Pepperdine (25-22, 25-21, 25-22) at the Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday night.
Livingston recorded 20 kills for the sixth time this season, hitting .436 on the night. Middle blocker Heather Gneiting finished with eight kills and no errors to lead the team with a .727 clip.
Outside hitter Elyse Stowell also added eight kills, while middle blockers Whitney Llarenas and Kate Prior tallied four kills apiece. Setter Abby Taylor finished with 34 assists, also contributing seven digs. Libero Kelsey Knudsen finished tied for a game-high 12 digs.
As a team, the Cougars (20-5, 14-2 WCC) hit .372 for the match, their best clip since recording a .416 hitting percentage against Gonzaga the last week of October. BYU held Pepperdine to .167 hitting and benefitted from 22 attack errors by the Waves, also out-blocking Pepperdine 12 to five.
After taking a 3-1 lead in the early going, the opening set saw four ties before the Cougars went ahead 8-7. Seven Pepperdine attack errors and two double blocks that featured Gneiting helped BYU expand its lead.
The Waves hung in and clawed back, but a Livingston kill off the block clinched the set for the Cougars' 25-22. Livingston recorded five kills in the frame, Gneiting had four and Stowell tallied three as BYU hit .355 in the set.
Facing a 5-1 deficit, the Cougars took a timeout and proceeded to score six-straight points, fueled by four Livingston kills and a Taylor ace, taking a 7-5 lead and forcing a Pepperdine timeout.
BYU weathered a 3-0 Waves’ run, and from there, the second set would be knotted up on seven separate occasions before the Cougars went on a 3-0 run of their own to take an 18-15 advantage into Pepperdine’s second timeout.
The two teams traded points coming out of the timeout through the end of the set, with a Livingston kill setting up BYU with set point and a Waves’ error giving the Cougars a 25-21 set win and 2-0 match lead. BYU hit .441 in the second set, registering 17 kills.
Scoring the first two points of the third via Pepperdine errors, the Cougars never trailed in the final frame, benefitting from three double blocks and a Stowell solo stuff as they opened up a 14-8 lead.
The Waves took six of the next seven points, making it a one-point game at 15-14, but a pair of kills by Stowell and an Alyssa Montoya ace forced two Pepperdine timeouts with the Cougars ahead 20-16.
BYU took its second timeout after a 3-0 Waves’ run made it 20-19. Two Livingston kills and a Pepperdine error gave the Cougars’ match point. The Waves fought it off once, but BYU took the ensuing point after a Cougar challenge overturned the call on the court to close out the 3-0 sweep with a 25-22 third set win.
The Cougars will next head to Los Angeles to face Loyola Marymount in their final WCC road match on Saturday at 1 p.m. PST. The match will be streamed on the WCC Network.
Former BYU women’s volleyball All-American Amy Boswell Usevitch will be inducted into the WCC Hall of Honor on Saturday…