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Natalie Orr | Posted: 13 Nov 2021 | Updated: 24 Nov 2021
Natalie Orr

No. 5 BYU notches 3-1 win over LMU in regular season home finale

BYU Volleyball Seniors 2021

PROVO, Utah — No. 5 BYU women’s volleyball played its final regular season home match of the season on Saturday and celebrated a hard-fought 3-1 win over Loyola Marymount (25-20, 24-26, 25-21, 25-22).

The loss put LMU on a five-match losing streak. Meanwhile, BYU is on an 18-match winning streak and now holds an overall record of 25-1. The Cougars remain undefeated in the West Coast Conference, 15-0.

To kick off the match, fans honored BYU’s six seniors: outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon, opposite hitter Kenzie Koerber, setter Tayler Hifo, middle blocker Whitney Llarenas, middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg and libero Gretchen Reinert. 

A highlight included Eschenberg notching her 556th career block. This puts her at No. 4 in program history for all-time blocks. Additionally, she boasts No. 1 in history for all-time solo blocks, tallying 54.

"It was really good to play LMU," Eschenberg said. "They’re a really good team. That’s what we needed, a tight, competitive match. I think it’s really good for us to have that and come out with a win. It gives us confidence."

Overall, LMU racked up 54 kills and a .259 hitting percentage. While BYU had one less kill, 53, its clip proved to be more effective, hitting .385. Junior setter Whitney Bower contributed to the team’s solid hitting percentage with her 40 assists.

At the top of the leaderboard offensively, LMU’s Megan Rice put down 20 kills. Among the Cougars, Koerber and sophomore outside hitter Erin Livingston led with 12 kills each. Eschenberg tallied eight kills and the team’s highest clip, a .636.

Defensively, BYU dominated with 11 points from blocks, compared to LMU’s seven. Koerber led the night with six blocks, followed by junior middle blocker Heather Gneiting with five.

LMU earned the first point of the match after a BYU block error. The Lions kept BYU on its toes, forcing the Cougars to play catch-up in the beginning of the set. A kill from Koerber started the Cougars on a 5-0 scoring run that gave BYU their first substantial lead of the match at 16-12.

The Lions battled back with a 2-0 run, but a kill and ace by Koerber stopped their momentum. BYU allowed LMU’s Megan Rice to hit her third kill of the set, but Koerber, Gneiting and Eschenberg followed with kills of their own, putting the Cougars ahead 22-17.

Koerber and Gneiting tacked on final kills, giving BYU a .609 clip for the set. This dominated LMU’s .231 clip and secured the set win at 25-20. 

The Cougars started the set with a 2-0 lead, thanks to kills by Eschenberg and Ballard-Nixon. However, the Lions tied up the match at 6-6 after putting down four kills. With a service ace, LMU took its first lead of the set.

At 17-17, Eschenberg notched her 556th career block. This puts her at No. 4 in program history for most career blocks. 

The Lions widened the gap at 22-20, laying down two kills. Gneiting hit a timely kill to tie the set for the 12th time at 22-22. The opponents tied again at 23-23 and 24-24. 

An LMU kill followed by a BYU attack error gave the Lions the set-win at 26-24. This ended BYU’s streak of 17 sweeps and 22 straight set wins.

BYU earned the first point of the set from a block by Gneiting and Bower. LMU was quick to push back, matching each of BYU’s points. An LMU service error started a brief scoring run for the Cougars, with kills from Eschenberg and Livingston bringing the score to 6-4.

LMU managed a 3-0 run, but Livingston shut it down with a kill at 14-11, starting BYU on its own 3-0 run. After Rice hit her 14th kill, Livingston and Eschenberg fought back with kills of their own. Ballard-Nixon tacked on a solo block to complete another 3-0 BYU run. 

Three more kills by LMU closed the gap to just three points at 24-21. Gneiting tallied her seventh kill to give BYU the set-win at 25-21.

A service error by LMU gave BYU the first point of the final set. The teams traded kills and errors until 8-8. In this tally, Livingston, Koerber, Ballard-Nixon and Gneiting all contributed kills.

An ace by Gneiting put the score at 11-11. Bower won a joust at the net to bring the score to 12-12. A kill by Koerber put BYU just ahead at 15-14. Then, a kill by Eschenberg started the Cougars on a 4-0 run until 19-16. BYU maintained this slight lead until two kills by LMU’s Rice tied the game at 22-22. Crucial final kills by Eschenberg and Livingston clinched the match at 25-22.

Up next, BYU hits the road to face Pacific in the Alex G. Spanos Center in Stockton, California. The match will take place on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. PST. The Cougars then have two final WCC road matches before the start of the NCAA Tournament.


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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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, basketball inside the Marriott Center 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 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.