No. 12 BYU Wins Again at No. 18 Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball downed No. 18 Utah for the fourth-straight time, winning 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 12-25, 25-18) on Thursday at the Huntsman Center.
The Cougars have now won nine of their last 10 against the Utes, including the last five played in Salt Lake City dating back to 2010.
McKenna Miller registered 22 kills on a .413 hitting percentage, totaling her most kills in a match since September 2017 and the highest total of her career in a match of less than five sets. Sophomore Madelyn Robinson added 13 kills for the Cougars. Senior Mary Lake had 17 digs and three assists while freshman Whitney Bower finished with 37 assists, nine digs, two kills, a block and an ace.
“I’m really proud of the way the team battled tonight,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “They kept their focus the entire match, even when things weren’t going our way. McKenna played incredible tonight and she had that look in her eyes that all she wanted was to win. Mary also brought it tonight and had some crucial passes and digs. Everybody contributed and we’ll use this to continue building.”
Utah scored the first three points of the match, but BYU quickly scored the next three. Neither team had a lead of more than two until the Cougars scored three in a row on a Ute attack error and kills by Robinson and Riley Lyman to go up 17-14. Utah chipped away and took a 19-18 lead, but again BYU answered, using three kills from Miller and an ace by Bower to make it 22-20. A slam by Eschenberg finished the set, giving to BYU by a score of 25-22.
The Cougars trailed in the second set until a kill by Gneiting and two kills from Miller gave BYU its first lead at 15-14. Utah tied it the next point, but a Bower dump kill, Miller tip and Eschenberg rocket quickly put the Cougars ahead, 18-15. Lake kept a potential block up, then Robinson secured a kill through the block for a pivotal point that maintained BYU’s lead, 23-21. Freshman Grace Wee followed with her first career ace and Gneiting finished off the set on a slide kill to win, 25-21. Miller had six kills for the second-straight set to lead BYU.
Utah opened up the biggest lead of the match early on, taking a 9-2 lead. BYU scored four of the next five to get within four at 10-6, but Utah answered and extended the lead back out to 18-9. The Utes cruised from there, 25-12.
This time it was BYU who jumped out early, taking a 6-1 lead as Robinson and Grimmer each contributed a pair of kills to go with two Ute attack errors. Utah came from behind to bring the score within one, 8-7, but two attack errors and a Miller kill brought the margin back up to 11-7. BYU held off the Utes, maintaining a two-point lead until to more kills from Miller gave the Cougars more breathing room at 20-16. Miller’s final kill and a Ute attack error closed out the match, giving BYU the victory with a 25-18 win in the set.
BYU will next play at No. 2 Stanford on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 1 p.m. PT. The match will be aired live on Pac-12 Networks.
No. 12 BYU Readies for Two Big Road Matches
PROVO, Utah – No. 12 BYU women's volleyball is set to play two big road matches this week as the Cougars travel to No. 18 Utah on Thursday, Sept. 19, and No. 2 Stanford on Saturday, Sept. 21, to finish their non-conference schedule.
Through three weeks, BYU is 7-2 overall with its only losses coming to No. 8 Marquette and No. 3 Texas, both in four sets.
BYU and Utah will begin at 6 p.m. MT at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City with the match aired live on the Pac-12 Network. The Cougars lead the series 72-28 all-time and have won the last three matches and eight of the last nine. BYU has come out of Salt Lake City with a win in their last four trips, having not lost there since 2010. The Cougars swept the Utes twice in 2018, first in September, then again in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
BYU and Stanford, who will play at noon PT on the Pac-12 Network, also have a rich history. BYU is 5-9 all-time against the Cardinal, winning the first meeting in 1981 before losing seven of the next eight in the 1980s and 90s, including four NCAA Tournament matchups in 1983, 85, 86 and 87. Since 2000, BYU leads the series 3-2, including a split last year when the Cougars beat No. 1 Stanford 3-2 in Provo in September before the Cardinal defeated BYU in the NCAA Final Four.
Senior McKenna Miller has reached double-digit kills in every match for BYU this season and leads the team with 116 kills. Freshman Whitney Bower is 12th in the nation with 21 aces on the year at setter and recently became the first player in BYU rally scoring era history to record at least four kills, three aces, 10 assists and 10 digs in a single match after totaling four kills, fives aces, 42 assists and 15 digs in last week's victory against VCU.
The Cougars are holding teams to a low .176 hitting percentage behind senior libero Mary Lake who leads the team averaging 3.7 digs per set, and middles Heather Gneiting and Kennedy Eschenberg who have 35 and 30 blocks, respectively, so far this year.