Southern Utah University
Aug 27 | 12:00 PM
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Brigham Young University
Austin Rustand | Posted: 27 Aug 2021 | Updated: 2 Oct 2021
Austin Rustand

Cougars sweep SUU Thunderbirds in 2021 season opener

Taylen Ballard-Nixon goes up for a kill in a volleyball game against Southern Utah University.
BYU celebrates victory over SUU Sophia Callahan celebrates with her teammates in a BYU volleyball game against Southern Utah University. Kennedy Eschenberg celebrates a kill in a volleyball game against Southern Utah University. BYU gets ready to break the huddle before a volleyball game against Southern Utah University.

PROVO, Utah — No. 15 BYU women’s volleyball opened its 2021 campaign with a convincing sweep (25-11, 25-16, 25-13) of Southern Utah in the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday afternoon.

“We have been really excited and have worked really hard this preseason for this moment,” said BYU outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon. “A win like this gives our team a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.”

Ballard-Nixon led all Cougars with 14 kills on a .480 clip. Kenzie Koerber and Kennedy Eschenberg both registered six kills and combined for three blocks. As a team, the Cougars outhit the Thunderbirds with 44 kills and a .391 hitting percentage to SUU’s 19 kills on a .035 clip.

"I'm super proud of our passing tonight,” Ballard-Nixon said. “We had a lot of middle swings, and our out-of-system sets from the back row were really good. That put us in good places to make place and place the ball."

The Cougars had eight players with two or more kills. As a team, they totaled seven service aces, 43 digs and six blocks in the three-set win over the Thunderbirds.

Set One

The Cougars got off to a hot start, winning six of the first seven points of the match before giving up a point to an SUU kill. The Cougars then went on a six-point run, including two aces from Koerber to take a 12-2 lead early. They finished the set by winning seven of the last 10 points to cap off a decisive first-set victory. BYU held the Thunderbirds to 11 points, five kills and a .038 hitting percentage in the first set in contrast to their .478 with 13 kills, 14 digs and five service aces in a dominant first-set victory.

Set Two

The Thunderbirds and Cougars traded the first 11 points of the set to give the Cougars a 6-5 lead early in the second set. The Cougars opened an 11-6 lead thanks to four straight kills. SUU pulled even by winning four of five points before the Cougars strung together seven straight points including an ace from Ballard-Nixon to take command and win the second set 25-16.

Set Three

The Cougars won nine of the first 12 points to take an early 9-3 lead in the third. SUU put together a run of its own that cut the deficit to three before BYU went on a 13-4 run to close out the third set in dominating fashion. BYU hit .314 in the third set with 16 kills and a block.

BYU will take the court in its second game of the day, taking on the Long Island Sharks at 7 p.m. back in the Smith Fieldhouse.


Karina Amos | Posted: 23 Aug 2021 | Updated: 1 Sep 2021
Karina Amos

Women's Volleyball to open 2021 season with dōTERRA Classic

BYU women's volleyball huddles around coach olmstead who is giving instruction

PROVO, Utah — No. 15 BYU women’s volleyball will open the 2021 season with the doTERRA Classic Aug. 27 and 28 at home in the Smith Fieldhouse. 

The Cougars will host Long Island University, UNLV and Southern Utah. Below is a breakdown of this weekend’s schedule.

Aug. 27

10 a.m. - UNLV vs. LIU

12 p.m. - SUU vs. BYU

7 p.m. - LIU vs. BYU

Aug. 28

10 a.m. - SUU vs. UNLV

4 p.m. - LIU vs. SUU

7 p.m. - UNLV vs. BYU 


No. 15 Brigham Young University Cougars (0-0, 0-0 West Coast Conference)

  • BYU is ranked No. 15 in the AVCA preseason poll released 8/17
  • Finished 2020-21 season ranked No. 15
  • The Cougars went 15-1 in conference play to finish on top of the WCC 
  • Since NCAA play began in 1981, the Cougars are 33-7 in season openers
  • The 2021 team features four 2020-21 All-Americans: Taylen Ballard-Nixon, Whitney Bower, Kennedy Eschenberg and transfer Kenzie Koerber
  • 2018 WCC Player of the Year Heather Gneiting returns to the court after serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Long Island University Sharks (0-0, 0-0 North East Conference)

  • LIU was voted second in the 2021 NEC preseason poll
  • The Sharks finished the 2020-21 season in the first round of the NCAA tournament, closing the season 8-6 overall and 8-4 in conference play
  • The 2021 roster features all three All-NEC honorees from last season 

Southern Utah University Thunderbirds (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky)

  • The Thunderbirds are slated at No. 7 in the Big Sky Conference preseason poll
  • SUU finished its 2021 spring season with a 9-8 overall record, the highest winning percentage in program history (.529).
  • First-year head coach Kacey Nady was announced as new the head coach Aug. 5 

University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebels (0-0, 0-0 Mountain West)

  • For the first time in program history the Rebels have been voted No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll
  • Outside hitter Mariena Hayden is the 2021 preseason Conference Player of the Year
  • The Rebels went 12-0 in MWC play last season, taking home the regular-season title 
  • UNLV finished the 2020-21 spring season ranked No. 27


The following games will be available only on the BYUtv App:

Aug. 27 UNLV vs .LIU

Aug. 28 SUU vs. UNLV

Aug 28. LIU vs. SUU

The following games will be available on BYUtv and the BYUtv App:

Aug. 27 BYU vs. SUU

Aug. 27 BYU vs. LIU

Aug. 28 BYU vs. UNLV


Only 7 p.m. games will require tickets. Purchase your tickets online via


Consistent with current Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU requirements, BYU Athletics will require masks in indoor venues when physical distancing isn’t maintained. This includes a requirement for those attending indoor athletic events, such as volleyball in the Smith Fieldhouse and inside the loges at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Wearing a mask will be required for entry to indoor BYU venues. Masks will not be required for outdoor BYU venues.

BYU strongly urges students, employees and campus guests to follow recent counsel from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to get vaccinated and wear masks.

The university will continue to monitor the situation and will reevaluate mask requirements at the end of September based on several factors including the immunization rate of the campus community, COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization rates, and guidance from health and government officials.