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Gritty Effort Give No. 12 BYU the Sweep at Pepperdine
MALIBU, Calif. – Two strong sets and an incredible effort in the third gave No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball a 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-15, 29-27) at Pepperdine on Saturday.
"I loved the way we fought the entire match," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "We had a total team effort and really executed well at the end of set three. I'm proud of the way we played this entire week."
Senior McKenna Miller had 18 kills on a .452 hitting percentage with two aces as one of three Cougars with double-digit kills. Sophomore Madelyn Robinson added 16 kills and seven digs while sophomore Heather Gneiting had 11 kills on a .588 hitting percentage with three blocks for BYU (18-3, 9-1).
Senior Mary Lake added 13 digs and seven assists while freshman Whitney Bower collected 41 assists, eight digs, three kills and two blocks.
BYU had a slow start to the match, falling behind 8-3, but after calling timeout the Cougars went on an 8-1 run capped off by a Miller kill and an ace by Kiani Moea’i to turn things around and take an 11-9 lead. With the match tied at 13, Kennedy Eschenberg’s kill started a 5-0 run that included two more kills by Miller and an ace by Bower to help BYU pull away. Six Cougars totaled 17 kills in the set led by Miller’s six, helping BYU hit .324 in the 25-21 win.
Down 7-6, BYU opened the set up with a 8-2 run that included seven Cougar kills as the offense again got rolling, taking a 14-9 lead. A fire alarm paused the match for a few minutes at 19-12 but didn’t cool down the Cougars who scored six of the set’s last nine points for a 25-15 win. Robinson had four-straight kills and five overall during the final points of the set, including the set winner. The sophomore had nine in the set overall as BYU hit .406 with 18 kills in the set as a team.
Pepperdine again took the initiative in the set, going out to a 10-5 advantage. Three kills and a second Miller ace brought the Cougars closer at 12-10. The Waves wouldn’t relinquish the lead, however, setting up set point at 24-20. A service error and kills by Gneiting and Miller fended off the first three set points, then a Pepperdine attack error tied things up at 24-24. A match point by BYU was thwarted, then the Waves had two more chances to end the set but BYU answered each time. Finally, at 27-27, Miller brought down two kills in a row, her eighth and ninth of the set, giving the Cougars a gritty 29-27 win and the match.
BYU returns home to Provo next week, first taking on Saint Mary’s in a Halloween matchup at 7 p.m. MT on BYUtv’s digital channels before hosting Pacific on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. MT on BYUtv.
Cougars on the road at LMU, Pepperdine
PROVO, Utah - The No. 12 BYU women's volleyball team begins the second half of the Cougars' West Coast Conference slate with a key road trip to LMU and Pepperdine this week.
BYU (16-3, 7-1) will take on the Lions (12-8, 6-2) on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. PT before facing the Waves (10-9, 6-2) on Saturday, Oct. 26, at noon PT. Both matches will be shown on the WCC Network.
The Cougars and LMU have played once already this season with BYU coming away with a five-set victory in Provo. BYU had four players with double-digit kills and hit .303 with freshman Whitney Bower finishing with 44 assists, 10 digs, five kills and four aces. Every set was close until BYU pulled away to win set five, 15-7.
This will be the first matchup of the season between BYU and Pepperdine. The Cougars have won their last 14 matches against the Waves, having not lost to Pepperdine in eight years. Last season, BYU swept both matches.
Senior McKenna Miller continues to lead the Cougars with 238 kills on a .271 average while also placing second on the team with 27 aces. Bower is averaging 9.76 assists and 2.59 digs per set with 33 aces on the year, while senior Mary Lake is averaging 3.54 digs per set.
The Cougar middles' offensive and defensive numbers are currently almost identical, with junior Kennedy Eschenberg at 135 kills and 79 blocks and sophomore Heather Gneiting at 134 kills and 84 blocks so far.