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Hannah Miner | Posted: 11 Nov 2021 | Updated: 23 Nov 2021
Hannah Miner

No. 5 BYU achieves sixth consecutive sweep, overpowering Pepperdine

BYU W volleyball vs Pepperdine, Nov. 11

PROVO, Utah — No. 5 BYU women’s volleyball overpowered Pepperdine for the second time this season (25-15, 25-17, 25-8) in the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday.

This is BYU’s 17th consecutive win, upping the team’s overall record to 24-1. Additionally, the Cougars remain undefeated in the WCC at 14-0.

In each set, BYU collected more kills than Pepperdine, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the West Coast Conference for team kills (1,091). The Cougars boasted 42 kills compared to the Waves’ 24. 

BYU ranks No.1 in the NCAA for opponent hitting percentage, holding Pepperdine to a .008 clip and 24 attack errors. Meanwhile, the Cougars posted a .354 clip and only eight attack errors. 

At the top of the leaderboard offensively, Pepperdine’s Rachel Ahrens laid down 13 kills. This past Monday, the WCC dubbed her Offensive Player of the Week. BYU senior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon trailed close behind with 11 kills. Seven of her kills came in the final set of the night.

“I think we played really well offensively and defensively,” Ballard-Nixon said. “All around, we did our jobs and we had an overall great game.”

Junior setter Whitney Bower achieved a double-double with her 31 assists and 11 digs. Defensively, both graduate opposite hitter Kenzie Koerber and graduate middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg put up four blocks. Eschenberg shined offensively as well, notching nine kills with a .643 clip. 

The teams stayed close, tying four times by 4-4. Eschenberg, Koerber and junior middle blocker Heather Gneiting all contributed kills. An attack error by the Waves and a kill by Ballard-Nixon gave BYU a two-point lead at 6-4. Pepperdine’s Grace Chillingworth hit two consecutive kills, but another four Cougar kills maintained BYU’s slight lead at 10-7. 

This momentum contributed to a 4-0 run by BYU. However, it ended with Pepperdine’s Ahrens notching her fourth kill of the set. The teams went from trading kills to trading attack errors until a kill by Ballard-Nixon at 18-11. 

Ultimately, a final kill by Koerber and a .323 clip overpowered Pepperdine’s .026. BYU took the set-win at 25-15.

The teams matched their pattern from set one, tying four times by 4-4 once again. Every time BYU attempted to widen the gap, Pepperdine closed it, tying at 7-7, 9-9 and 10-10.

The set shifted after sophomore outside hitter Erin Livingston’s fourth kill of the set. This kill started the Cougars on a 5-0 run, featuring two aces by graduate libero Aria McComber. This extended BYU’s lead to 17-11.

Pepperdine’s Ahrens followed the run with three quick kills, bringing her kill count to 11 for the night. Ballard-Nixon battled back with two kills of her own. In the end, final kills from  Bower, Gneiting and Livingston secured BYU the set-win at 25-17.

BYU quickly racked up three kills from Koerber, Eschenberg and Ballard-Nixon. Pepperdine followed with three kills of its own, two being from Ahrens. 

The Cougars challenged with a 13-0 run, including three kills by Ballard-Nixon and two aces by Koerber. This is BYU’s second match in a row with a 13-0 run in the final set.

A BYU attack error broke the run at 17-5. Pepperdine managed a 3-0 run, but failed to catch up. Two final kills by Eschenberg and three attack errors by the Waves gave BYU its sixth consecutive sweep at 25-8.

BYU's next match will take place on Saturday, Nov. 13 against Loyola Marymount. The match will begin at 1 p.m. MST and will be available on BYUtv. This will be the last regular season game to take place in the Smith Fieldhouse and this year’s seniors will be recognized prior to the game.


Natalie Orr | Posted: 9 Nov 2021 | Updated: 22 Nov 2021
Natalie Orr

No. 5 BYU closes out regular season home schedule


PROVO, Utah — No. 5 BYU women’s volleyball will play its final two regular season home matches in the Smith Fieldhouse, facing West Coast Conference opponents Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount on Nov. 11 and Nov. 13, respectively.

This is BYU’s highest ranking of the season and highest since 2018.

On Thursday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. MDT, the Cougars will face the Waves for the second time this season. The teams last faced on Pepperdine’s home turf where BYU snagged a 3-1 win. The current all-time record between the opponents is 30-10, favoring BYU.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, at 1 p.m. MDT, BYU will play its final home match of the season against LMU. Back in October, the Cougars posted a 3-1 victory over the Lions in Los Angeles. BYU holds a dominant 21-2 all-time record against the WCC foe.

Prior to Saturday’s match, seniors Taylen Ballard-Nixon, Kenzie Koerber, Tayler Hifo, Whitney Llarenas, Kennedy Eschenberg and Gretchen Reinert will be honored for their careers at BYU. 

The Cougars have five total games remaining in the regular season. After this weekend’s games, BYU will play at Pacific, at Saint Mary’s and at San Diego. With BYU at 13-0 in WCC play and San Diego at 12-1, the WCC Championship could come down to the regular season finale against the Toreros, but the Cougars will need to get through some other tough tests first.

No. 5 Brigham Young University Cougars (23-1, 13-0 West Coast Conference)

  • The Cougars are on a 16-match winning streak
  • This is head coach Heather Olmstead’s sixth season with 20+ wins
  • Graduate middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg is a Senior CLASS Award finalist 
  • Junior middle blocker Heather Gneiting ranks No. 3 in the NCAA for hitting percentage, holding a .472 clip
  • As a team, BYU ranks No. 1 in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.344), No. 1 in opponent hitting percentage (.111), No. 3 in match winning percentage (.958), No. 4 in kills per set (14.43), No. 9 in assists per set (13.14) and No. 16 in aces per set (1.88). BYU leads the WCC in all these categories.

Pepperdine University Waves (18-4, 10-3 West Coast Conference)

  • Last week, the Waves racked up two wins at home against Saint Mary’s (3-1) and Pacific (3-0)
  • On Monday, the league announced that Pepperdine swept the WCC weekly honors. Rachel Ahrens became WCC Offensive Player of the Week and Madison Shields became WCC Defensive Player of the Week.
  • In the NCAA, Pepperdine ranks No. 17 in match winning percentage (.818), No. 23 in assists per set (12.84) and No. 29 in kills per set (13.82)
  • In the WCC, the Waves rank No. 1 in both team assists (1,091) and team kills (1,175)
  • Rachel Ahrens leads the WCC in the following eight categories: kills per set, total kills, attacks per set, aces per set, points, points per set and service aces. She ranks No. 6 in the NCAA for aces per set (.56) and total service aces (48).

Loyola Marymount University Lions (15-8, 6-7 West Coast Conference)

  • LMU is currently on a four-match losing streak, posting losses at home against Pacific (3-1) and Saint Mary’s (3-0)
  • In the WCC, the Lions rank No. 1 for team service aces (156), No. 2 in team total blocks (196), No. 2 in team kills (1,164) and No. 2 in team assists (1,070)
  • Kari Geissberger ranks No. 2 in the WCC in kills per set (3.96) and points per set (4.68)
  • The team averages 12.9 kills per set, 1.7 aces per set and 2.2 blocks per set




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