No. 14 BYU Falls to Utah in NCAA Tournament Second Round
PROVO, Utah — No. 14 BYU women’s volleyball fell to Utah (25-15, 25-15, 25-15) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday.
"I want to thank our fans for coming out tonight and for supporting us all year," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead. "Congrats to Utah on advancing; they played really, really well tonight. I'm proud of our team for an incredible season. They fought every day to get better and I couldn't be prouder of what this team accomplished."
Senior McKenna Miller had seven kills and a block while junior Kennedy Eschenberg also knocked down seven kills to go along with four blocks, including one solo. Senior Mary Lake also notched 14 digs in the match.
BYU could not keep up with Utah’s attack as the Utes got out a 10-3 lead early. Miller led the way for the Cougars with four kills, but it was not enough as the visiting team took the first set, 25-15.
The second set began tighter than the first, with a pair of Madelyn Robinson kills keeping BYU close at 11-9 midway through the set. But a subsequent 4-0 run gave the Utes the breathing room they needed the rest of the way to a 25-15 victory.
A kill by Whitney Bower and an ace from Heather Gneiting gave BYU a good start, but Utah answered with a 6-0 run to take a 9-2 lead. The Cougars got as close as four at 12-8, but the visitors maintained their lead, downing BYU 25-15.
BYU finishes the year at 26-5 overall, the Cougars' sixth-straight season with 25 or more wins, and reached their eighth-consecutive NCAA Tournament.
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.