No. 12 BYU Knocks Off No. 2 Stanford
STANFORD, Calif. – No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball defeated No. 2 Stanford 3-1 (18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 31-29) at Maples Pavilion on Saturday, besting the defending champion Cardinal for the second-straight season.
Senior McKenna Miller had 18 kills and two aces while freshman Kate Grimmer and sophomore Heather Gneiting added 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Freshman Whitney Bower added 48 assists, 18 digs, three kills and an ace.
"What a gritty match by our team," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "I'm so proud of the way we stuck together and stayed the course. There were so many crucial, big-time plays by so many different players. Everyone had great energy and I'm really proud of the way the team executed on the road."
Senior Mary Lake had 15 digs, 10 assists and an ace while junior Taylen Ballard-Nixon entered the match in set three and came up big with seven kills on .500 hitting and three blocks for the Cougars.
Two days removed from a 3-1 win at No. 18 Utah, BYU (9-2) went on the road to give the Cardinal their first home loss since November 2016. Stanford (6-2) came into the match after winning at No. 1 Nebraska on Wednesday.
After losing the first set, 25-18, BYU answered back in the second, scoring three-straight points on a kill by sophomore Madelyn Robinson and two Stanford attack errors to take a 7-4 lead. The Cougars maintained their lead the rest of the match, then scored four in a row to go up 24-20 before a big block by Gneiting and Robinson sealed the set for BYU, 25-22. Miller had six kills to pace the Cougars in the set.
Stanford took an 18-15 lead in the third set before back-to-back kills by Miller, a kill by Robinson and a Bower ace gave BYU a 19-18 lead. The Cardinal again fought back to regain the lead late at 23-21, but BYU responded in kind, scoring the game’s final four points to claim set three; a service error and attack error by Stanford tied the set before Robinson’s kill and another attack error gave the Cougars a 2-1 lead in the match.
BYU stormed out front in set four, scoring the first five points, including kills from Miller, Grimmer and junior Kennedy Eschenberg. However, Stanford quickly re-established itself, scoring the next six points. Kills by Grimmer and Ballard-Nixon, followed by an ace by Lake, gave the Cougars an 11-8 edge they used to keep the lead throughout the set, ultimately taking a 24-20 lead. But Stanford would not die, instead staving off multiple match points before taking a 25-24 lead of their own.
But in front of the crowd of 2,964, the Cougars refused to quit. An Eschenberg kill tied the match back up, 25-25, after which BYU had three more match points as the two teams went back and forth. Finally, down 29-28, Grimmer got a kill to fall, then Stanford committed an attack error. A final rally ended when Ballard-Nixon’s kill ricocheted out of play, giving the Cougars the 31-29 set and the match.
BYU is now 13-5 against ranked teams and has four wins against teams ranked fifth or higher since Olmstead became head coach in 2015.
The Cougars will now begin West Coast Conference play starting with a match at Gonzaga on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. PT. BYU will then play at Portland on Saturday, Sept. 28, at noon PT.
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.