No. 7 BYU beats Cincinnati in four sets, improves to 5-0
PROVO, Utah — No. 7 BYU women’s volleyball improved to 5-0 on the season behind a season-high 63 kills to knock off the Cincinnati Bearcats 3-1 (25-13, 21-25, 25-14, 25-19) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday night.
“I just love our focus, energy and fire,” said BYU junior outside hitter Erin Livingston. “We never think we’re done and we’re good at pushing to the next set.”
Livingston’s performance was capped with 17 kills on a .444 clip, just one shy of her career high. She also tallied six digs, two blocks and one service ace. The Cougars recorded a .363 hitting percentage in the four-set victory, complimented by six service aces, 46 digs and 12 blocks.
Freshman outside hitter Eden Bower contributed a career-high 13 kills, four digs and two blocks.
Graduate middle blocker Whitney Llarenas tallied nine on a .357 clip to go along with five blocks. Senior middle blocker Heather Gneiting notched 11 kills, six digs and four blocks. Senior setter Whitney Bower totaled 48 assists for her highest of the season.
Senior opposite hitter Kate Grimmer carded seven kills on a .600 hitting percentage along with six digs and four blocks in the four-set victory.
The Cougars began the match by taking an early 6-2 advantage with five BYU points coming off of kills from Gneiting, Livingston, Whitney Bower and Llarenas. Whitney Bower assisted on three of the first six scores while Gneiting added a service ace.
Out of an early Cincinnati timeout, Eden Bower kept the Cougar momentum going with a roof block to go up 7-2. Both teams would trade points after a kill by the Bearcats which brought the score to 12-7.
BYU would go on a 5-0 run in the ensuing points, highlighted by Gneiting’s second service ace and a kill by Livingston after a marathon point. Trading a series of errors with the Bearcats, Whitney Bower’s 12th assist landed an Eden Bower kill to put the Cougars up 22-12.
With the score at 23-12, an error by Cincinnati led to Gneiting’s first solo block of the night to close out the set with a 25-13 BYU victory in set one.
After two Livingston kills, one from Llarenas and service aces by Aria McComber and Gneiting, BYU went up 5-1.
A block by Llarenas and Eden Bower pushed the lead to 9-4 before the Bearcats went on a 6-1 run to even the score at 10-10, with the lone Cougar point coming off a kill from Eden Bower.
A back-and-forth series of points brought the score to 17-17, with the Cougars hitting a .150 clip at that point in the set, contrasting sharply with an efficient .538 first set hitting percentage.
With the Bearcats up 20-18, Heather Gneiting notched her third kill of the night to cut into Cincinnati’s momentum. The Bearcats would score three consecutive points to push the lead to 23-19, their largest lead of the set.
A Cincinnati kill set up its own 24-20 advantage. A put-away by Livingston closed the gap to 24-21, but ultimately gave way to a second set victory for Cincinnati at 25-21.
The Cougars would once again take an early 5-1 lead after two kills by Livingston and one from Gneiting.
Gneiting’s sixth put-away had BYU up 9-5, kickstarting a 5-1 Cougar run that included Livingston’s 12th kill of the contest. The run was capped by a block from both Gneiting and Livingston to push the BYU lead to 13-6.
The next five points for the Cougars were kills, with two coming from Gneiting and one apiece for Llarenas, Whitney Bower and Eden Bower. Eden Bower’s kill marked her ninth of the night.
With the score at 18-11, the Cougars held a .824 third set clip and no errors.
The Cougars would go on to score four of the next five points that included a service ace by Alyssa Montoya, marking BYU’s sixth of the match, as the Cougars led 22-12.
Livingston finished a point off a Whitney Bower assist to set up the Cougars’ second set-point of the night. A solo block by Llarenas capped off BYU’s second double-digit set victory of the match, 25-14.
En route to the third set victory, BYU rebounded in a major way by carding a .696 hitting percentage, their best in a single set this season. The Cougars recorded 17 kills on 23 swings while only committing one error. They also recorded nine digs and four blocks on the set.
A couple of Cincinnati errors paired with kills carded by Whitney Bower, Livingston and Llarenas helped the Cougars jump out to a 5-2 edge.
A series marked by nearly identical consecutive block assists from Gneiting and Grimmer put the Cougars up 10-5.
With an 11-5 BYU advantage, the Bearcats would score four of the ensuing six points to slash the lead to 13-9.
The Cougars responded with a 5-2 run to extend the lead to 18-11 after Whitney Bower tallied four assists that included a kill by Livingston to mark her fifteenth of the night.
Eden Bower finished off her thirteenth and final kill of the night to start a 3-0 BYU run that would push the lead to set point at 24-17 after two additional put aways by Gneiting and Livingston.
After two Cougar errors, the Cougars finished the set with Livingston’s 17th and final kill, matching her season-high and one shy of her career-high last year against San Francisco.
The BYU Nike Invitational continues with the Cougars taking part in a top-10 showdown tomorrow night against No. 10 Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv and the BYUtv app. Fans will need tickets for admission to the contest.
Cougars prepare for BYU Nike Invitational
PROVO, Utah — Coming off a 3-0 opening weekend, No. 7 BYU women's volleyball readies to host Utah State, Cincinnati and No. 10 Pittsburgh in the BYU Nike Invitational at the Smith Fieldhouse this week.
The Cougars moved up from No. 10 to No. 7 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll, the association announced on Monday. Pitt, one of the three teams that BYU will host this week was ranked No. 10 in this week's poll.
15 of BYU's 19 players got to play in the last week's season opening-sweep of Rider, including freshman middle blocker Kate Prior, who recorded her first career block, and freshman outside hitter Eden Bower, who tallied five kills in the match.
Senior middle blockers Heather Gneiting (15) and Whitney Llarenas (9) both set carer-highs in kills as the Cougars beat Duke in four sets. Eden Bower then set a new carer-high in kills with 10 against Washington State on Saturday night.
Utah State (2-0, 0-0 MWC)
- The Aggies went 2-0 in the Utah State Invitational last weekend, including a 3-1 win over No. 12 UCLA
- Through two matches, Utah State has four players with double-digit kills on the season: Kylee Stokes (29), Tatum Stall (21), Emilee Turner (21) and Kennedi Boyd (15)
- Coached by Rob Neilson, the Aggies are 29-19 during his three-year tenure
- BYU leads the all-time series with Utah State, 51-15. The Cougars last played the Aggies on September 13, 2011, sweeping Utah State, 3-0.
- This will be the first time the Cougars play the Aggies, BYU head coach Heather Olmstead's alma mater, during her time at the helm
Cincinnati (1-2, 0-0 AAC)
- The Bearcats travel to Provo after going 1-2 during their opening weekend, beating Florida State after falling to Illinois State and Dayton
- Sophomore middle blocker Abbey Walker leads Cincinnati with 41 kills through three matches. Walker is one of five Bearcat hitters with double-digit kills and one of four with 20+ kills.
- Senior libero Payton Frederick and Walker were both named to the American Athletic Conference (AAC) weekly honor roll on Monday, Aug. 29
- Head coach Molly Alvey is in her 11th season with Cincinnati, posting a 165-138 record since 2012
- Friday's match between the Cougars and Bearcats will mark the first time the two teams meet in volleyball
No. 10 Pitt (2-1, 0-0 ACC)
- The Panthers went 2-1 in the Texas A&M Invitational last weekend, dropping their season opener to then No. 25 San Diego in five sets before sweeping both Hawai'i and Texas A&M
- Valeria Vasquez Gomez (34) and Juliana Dalton (33) lead Pittsburgh in kills and are two of six Panther hitters with double-digit kills through week one
- In his tenth season as Pitt head coach, Dan Fisher boasts a 229-59 record
- The Cougars and Panthers have met just twice on the volleyball court, splitting the all-time series. Pitt won last season's matchup in Pittsburgh, 3-1.
|Utah State @ BYU||Thursday, September 1||7pm MDT||BYUtv/BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Cincinnati vs. Pitt||Friday, September 2||10am MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Pitt vs. Utah State||Friday, September 2||5pm MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Cincinnati @ BYU||Friday, September 2||7pm MDT||BYUtv/BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Utah State vs. Cincinnati||Saturday, September 3||4pm MDT||BYUtv App||Live Stats|
|Pitt @ BYU||Saturday, September 3||7pm MDT||BYUtv/BYUtv App||Live Stats|
Fans will need tickets to attend the three BYU matches against Utah State, Cincinnati and Pitt. The non-BYU games on both Friday and Saturday will be non-ticketed and open seating.