Cougars' Run Ends in Final Four
MINNEAPOLIS - No. 4 seed BYU women’s volleyball ended its deep run in the NCAA Tournament in the Final Four to No. 1 seed Stanford (25-15, 25-15, 25-18) in the Target Center on Thursday.
Senior Roni Jones Perry recorded eight kills and nine digs, sophomore Kennedy Eschenberg had five kills and three blocks and senior Lyndie Haddock-Eppich finished with 23 assists, 10 digs, two kills and an ace for the Cougars.
Down 4-1 in the first set, BYU (31-2) went on a 7-1 run to take a 9-5 lead behind a pair of Jones-Perry kills and dump kill by Haddock-Eppich. Stanford (33-1) clawed back, tying the game at 12-12 before stringing out a run of their own to go ahead 22-13. The Cardinal claimed the set a few points later, 25-15, after hitting just .188 but totaling seven team blocks, including six by Tami Alade.
Stanford came out to a 9-5 lead, but a kill by Gneiting gave the serve back to BYU. Senior Danelle Stetler then had two aces on either side of another kill from Gneiting to tie the set up, 9-9. A 10-2 run from the Cardinal pushed Stanford ahead, 19-11, and the Cougars couldn’t come back, falling 25-15.
BYU took an 8-6 lead on a dump kill by Haddock-Eppich in set three. Stanford managed to tie the set at 9-9, but kills from Eschenberg and Stetler and an ace from Haddock-Eppich pulled BYU ahead, 12-9. But another big run, this one 10-2 by Stanford, saw the Cougars fall behind, 19-14. Stanford stayed ahead despite kills from Gneiting and Jones-Perry, winning the set and the match, 25-18.
BYU finishes the season with a .939 winning percentage, the highest in program history. Led by Olmstead, the National Coach of the Year, the team featured Heather Gneiting, the National Freshman of the Year, and six All-Americans, a program record for a season.
BYU Set to Play Stanford in NCAA Final Four
MINNEAPOLIS - The No. 4 seed BYU women's volleyball team will play No. 1 seed Stanford in an NCAA National Semifinal match in the Target Center on Thursday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.
The match is the third Final Four contest in program history for the Cougars (31-1); BYU lost to Penn State in 1993 and defeated Texas in 2014 in the other two appearances.
Stanford (32-1) is coming off a defeat of Penn State to reach the semifinal. The Cardinal are in their third-straight Final Four, losing to eventual champion Nebraska last season and winning the national championship in 2016.
The Cardinal are led by the 2017 national Player of the Year, junior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer, who is averaging 4.76 kills per set on a .288 hitting percentage and was named a first-team All-American for the third-straight season.
Earlier this season BYU defeated Stanford in five sets in Provo. Senior All-American Roni Jones-Perry had 20 kills and 10 digs and national Freshman of the Year Heather Gneiting added nine kills and 10 blocks to lead the Cougars to victory.
BYU is ranked No. 1 in the country in hitting percentage at .315 and No. 2 in opponent hitting percentage at .139. Meanwhile, Stanford is ranked No. 2 in hitting percentage at .310 and No. 24 in opponent hitting percentage at .164.
The winner of the BYU vs. Stanford match will play the winner of No. 3 Illinois and No. 7 Nebraska on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2.