University Credit Union Pavilion
1928 Saint Marys Road Moraga CA 94575
Eight aces, efficient hitting helps No. 12 Cougars sweep Gaels
MORAGA, Calif. — No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball recorded its third-consecutive sweep in West Coast Conference (WCC) play, downing Saint Mary’s, 3-0 (25-18, 25-13, 25-14) at University Credit Union Pavilion on Thursday night.
The Cougars (14-3, 7-0 WCC) responded from a .273 clip and seven attack errors in the first set by hitting .389 in the second and .483 in the third, registering 48 kills on a .378 clip for the match, also tallying 10 blocks and eight service aces, tying a season high.
Outside hitter Erin Livingston finished with a team-high 11 kills, with middle blocker Whitney Llarenas adding 10 kills while hitting .562 on the night. Outside hitter Elyse Stowell (nine kills), opposite hitter Kate Grimmer (eight kills) and middle blocker Heather Gneiting (seven kills) each recorded hitting percentages of .462 or better.
Gneiting led the team with six total blocks. Setter Whitney Bower finished with 30 assists and 12 digs, and Grimmer notched a team-high 13 digs. Bower, outside hitter Alyssa Montoya and liberos Aria McComber and Kelsey Knudsen each carded two service aces against the Gaels.
A slow start to open the match had BYU down by six points early, at 12-6. Two separate 3-0 runs helped the Cougars stay in it, before a surging 6-0 run, led by two Livingston kills and a pair of blocks courtesy of Bower and Gneiting, put BYU in front by two, 16-14.
Two more Livingston kills, sandwiched by a Saint Mary’s timeout, gave the Cougars a 19-15 lead. A couple of Bower service aces, the 98th and 99th of her career, then put BYU ahead 22-16.
Llarenas went on a 3-1 run of her own down the stretch, closing out the set for the Cougars with a slide kill at 25-18.
Building upon its first set momentum, four Llarenas kills and two Stowell kills helped BYU race out to a 10-2 lead in the second as Livingston was back to serve for five of those points.
The Cougars then went on a 7-0 run with McComber at the service line, paced by a pair of kills each from Stowell and Grimmer that had BYU in front 17-4. Another Stowell kill and an ace by Montoya then gave the Cougars a 21-5 advantage.
Weathering a 4-0 Gael run, BYU got kills from Livingston and Bower to bring up match point, with a Llarenas solo block putting Saint Mary’s away, 25-13.
Knudsen opened the third set with an ace. The Cougars followed that up with two Livingston kills and a couple of Llarenas blocks, another solo and the second being a double with Bower, to force a Gael timeout.
Saint Mary’s came running out of its timeout with five-consecutive points to tie the match at 6-all, bringing up a BYU timeout. Llarenas ended the Gaels’ run with a slide kill, downing another, the latter off the block to put the Cougars up 8-7.
Stowell and Gneiting each landed two kills as BYU rattled off a 3-0 run and then a 6-0 run, capped off by another Montoya ace that forced Saint Mary’s second timeout as the Cougars held a commanding 17-9 lead in the set.
Leading 22-13 after a slide kill and block from Gneiting, a Bower dump kill and quick hitter from Llarenas, BYU finished things off on a 3-0 run with two Grimmer kills in the middle and a McComber ace to secure the 25-14 set and match win.
The Cougars will remain in northern California to visit Pacific on Saturday, Oct. 15 at noon PDT. The match will be streamed on the WCC Network.
No. 12 BYU visits Moraga to play Saint Mary's
PROVO, Utah — Winners of eight-straight, No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball will head to Moraga this week to take on Saint Mary’s in a Thursday night matchup.
The Cougars moved up two spots to No. 12 in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll and have been ranked in the top-17 for 134-consecutive polls.
Reeling off a pair of sweeps against Santa Clara and San Francisco last week, BYU improved to 13-3 overall and 6-0 in West Coast Conference (WCC) play. Outside hitter Erin Livingston paced the Cougars with 26 kills, for an average of 4.33 per set, on a .489 clip.
Middle blocker Whitney Llarenas was the second BYU player in as many weeks to earn WCC Defensive Player of the Week honors after fellow middle Heather Gneiting won the nod last week. Llarenas sent back 10 blocks between the two matches last week, including a career-high eight against the Dons.
BYU has won 33 WCC matches in a row, the third-longest streak in NCAA DI women's volleyball. The Cougars are also riding a 17-game road win streak in conference play.
No. 12 BYU @ Saint Mary’s
- Thursday, Oct. 13 (7 p.m. PDT)
- University Credit Union Pavilion (Moraga, CA)
- WCC Network
- Live Stats
The Cougars have swept five of the last six matchups with the Gaels. Dating back to 2014, BYU has won 16-straight games against Saint Mary’s, dropping just six sets to the Gaels during that span as well.
Setting hitting percentage season-highs in back-to-back games last week (.429 vs. Santa Clara and .506 vs. San Francisco), the Cougars improved their hitting percentage to .301 last weekend, a mark that has BYU at No. 8 in the country. The Cougars also rank No. 10 in kills per set (14.11) and No. 15 in assists per set (13.09). All three statistical marks remain WCC leaders.
Continuing to lead the team offensively are outside hitter Erin Livingston (218 kills), middle blocker Heather Gneiting (140 kills) and middle blocker Whitney Llarenas (125 kills). Llarenas upped her hitting percentage to .399 last week and ranks No. 23 nationally in the category while still leading the conference.
Livingston’s 4.04 kills per set and setter Whitney Bower’s 10.48 assists per set are good for second in the WCC. Bower has recorded 566 assists this season, and her per set average sits at No. 15 nationwide.
Bower continues to lead the team in digs, at 139, with libero Kelsey Knudsen (131), opposite hitter Kate Grimmer (124) and libero Aria McComber (123) right behind. With 52 total blocks, Gneiting paces the Cougars at the net. Llarenas has tallied 49 total blocks, and Grimmer has sent back 33 of her own.
Saint Mary’s (6-8, 3-3 WCC)
- The Gaels opened conference play with wins at Portland, at Gonzaga and against San Francisco, but have dropped three-straight at Pacific, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine
- In non-conference play, Saint Mary’s picked up wins against Penn, CSUN and UC Davis
- Hawley Harrer and Genevieve Bane lead the Gaels in kills with 170 and 113, respectively, with Ella Sandt recording 376 assists on the year
- Makenna Joyce (179 digs), Megan Chandler Allred (103 digs) and Sandt (102 digs) are the three Gaels with 100+ digs this season
- Five Saint Mary’s players have double-digit blocks on the year: Kjersti Strong (41), Kristen Erland (40), Harrer (37), Bane (27) and Sandt (14)
- Head coach Rob Browning has been with the Gaels for 17 seasons, posting a 254-225 record in that time
- BYU leads the all-time series with Santa Clara, 21-6. The Cougars took both matchups last season, winning 3-1 in Moraga and sweeping the Gaels in Provo.
After spending Thursday in Moraga, BYU will head to Stockton to play at Pacific on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 12 p.m. PDT. The game will be streamed on the WCC Network.