No. 14 BYU Sweeps NM State in NCAA First Round
PROVO, Utah — No. 14 seed BYU women’s volleyball swept New Mexico State (25-7, 25-23, 25-19) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday.
"Congratulations to New Mexico State on a great season," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "I liked the way we served tough tonight and took good swings. I'm proud of the way we stayed together when we were down."
Solid play across the board gave the Cougars the advantage as they made quick work of the Aggies. Senior McKenna Miller led the way offensively with 13 kills, posting a .379 hitting percentage to go along with three service aces and four blocks. Freshman Kate Grimmer also contributed 10 kills on .667 hitting, a service ace, three digs and two blocks; her hitting percentage is the third-highest in an NCAA Tournament match by a BYU player in the rally scoring era.
BYU also tied a team record for the second-highest amount of service aces in a rally scoring era tournament match with eight and set the third-highest mark with a .386 team hitting percentage.
New Mexico State kept it close at the beginning before BYU put together an incredible 16-0 run to go up 24-6. The Cougars hit an excellent .520, good for the best tournament hitting percentage in a set in program history, behind kills from five different players. BYU’s defense held its opponent to only seven points in the set, the lowest point total in a 25-point set this season for the Cougars. Whitney Bower dropped two service aces to give BYU the win, 25-7.
Neither team seemed to be able to pull away in a tightly contested set that featured seven ties. The Cougar offense was led by Miller, who had six kills. The set was tied at 21-21 before Grimmer dropped a clutch kill and service ace to take the lead, 23-21. A kill from Miller ultimately dropped NM State, 25-23.
The Cougars battled back from three different three-point deficits in this set. Miller was huge in shifting the momentum back to BYU as she recorded three out of four points in the middle of the set, posting two kills in a row and a service ace to make the score 13-12. The Cougars did not look back as they put together a 7-0 run to put the Aggies away for good. Miller dropped two more aces late and Heather Gneiting knocked down the final point with a kill to complete the sweep, 25-19.
The Cougars move on to the Second Round against rival Utah at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. MT. The winning team will advance to play in the Sweet 16.
No. 14 Seed BYU Set to Begin NCAA Tourney Friday
PROVO, Utah – No. 14 seed BYU women's volleyball will play New Mexico State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in the Smith Fieldhouse.
The match between the Cougars and Aggies will begin at 7 p.m. MT on BYUtv. In the first match of the day, Utah and Illinois will face off at 4 p.m. MT on the BYUtv app. The winners of each match will then play each other on Saturday at 7 p.m. MT on BYUtv in the second round of the tournament.
The Cougars are 30-5 overall against the Aggies, including 12-2 at home and 2-0 in the NCAA Tournament. BYU defeated NM State 3-0 in the first round of both the 2003 and 2012 tournaments. The Cougars have won their last six matches against the Aggies dating back to 1989.
BYU is 73-28 all-time against Utah, including 39-10 at home and 1-0 in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars have won four straight over the Utes, including a 3-1 win in Salt Lake City this past September and a sweep in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament in Provo. BYU is 3-3 all-time against Illinois, including 1-2 at home. The Illini have won the last three matchups in 2002, 2010 and 2011 while the Cougars took the first three in 1971, 1987 and 1988.
The Cougars are making their eighth-straight tournament appearance and have been seeded in six of those seasons. BYU has made at least the Sweet 16 each of the previous seven years, including a national semifinal finish in 2018 and a national title game in 2014.
Since defeating Houston 3-0 in a first round match in 1995, BYU has won 21-straight NCAA Tournament home matches over the last 25 years. The streak is currently third-longest in the nation by wins and the longest by number of years: Texas is on a 37-match win streak dating to 2007 and Penn State is on a 34-match streak since 2006. During the streak, BYU has won 63 of 67 sets with sweeps in 17 matches.
Senior McKenna Miller was named WCC Player of the Year and senior Mary Lake was named WCC Libero of the Year this week. The duo joined junior Kennedy Eschenberg, sophomore Heather Gneiting and freshman Whitney Bower on the All-WCC First Team. Bower and Kate Grimmer were also named to the All-Freshman Team.