Cougars Fall Short Against UNLV
PROVO -- The homecourt was not kind to the BYU women’s volleyball team as the Cougars fell in three sets Saturday to the UNLV Rebels (25-15, 25-11, 28-26) in the Smith Fieldhouse. With their fourth-straight loss, BYU is now 9-7 overall and 2-5 in the Mountain West Conference.
“It’s really hard to watch all these losses pile up, but I truly believe that when we turn it around, we’re going to be unstoppable,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “This is where we find out what we’re made of and what kind of character we have.”
Sophomore Christina Measom led the way for BYU with nine kills on a .381 hitting percentage. Junior Ashton Hansen Hosford posted six blocks to pace the Cougars, but a .091 hitting percentage compared to a .341 mark for the Rebels made the difference. UNLV’s Jessica Walters tallied a match-high 14 kills.
Despite the outstanding early play Measom, who had three kills in the first seven BYU points, the Cougars still found themselves trailing 14-7 early in set one. An 11-3 stretch by the Rebels established the tone for the opening frame as UNLV’s offense seemed to score at will. With a final hitting percentage of .565, the Rebels cruised to the 25-15 victory.
BYU started strong in set two, but a six-point UNLV run put the Rebels in front at 10-5. The Cougars fought back with five straight points including two blocks to knot the score at 10-10. But the momentum was short-lived as the Rebels ran off nine points to take a commanding lead. Redshirt freshman Casey Speredon finally got a side-out for BYU with a kill down the line after entering the match, but the Cougars could not overcome the deficit. UNLV scored 15 of the last 16 points in the set to take the 25-11 win. BYU struggled offensively in the set, hitting -.077.
Set three was a battle from the start until a 4-0 BYU spurt gave the Cougars an 8-6 lead. Despite continued pressure from the Rebels, BYU managed to hold on to the lead to a 15-13 advantage until four straight UNLV scores put the Rebels ahead. Facing match point at 24-22, BYU came back with a Rebel error and a block from Hosford and Kiana Rogers to knot the score at 24-24. UNLV had another chance at 25-24, but two points later it was the Cougars who had the set opportunity at 26-25. A Rebel kill extended the period long enough the UNLV to string together three points and take the set, 28-26, on a Cougar hitting error.
Up next for BYU is a showdown with in-state rival Utah in the annual Deseret First Duel rivalry series. The match will begin Friday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse and be shown live worldwide on BYUTV.
Two Home Matches Up Next For BYU
PROVO -- After playing 10 of its first 14 matches on the road this season, the BYU women’s volleyball team (9-5, 2-3 MWC) returns to the Smith Fieldhouse for a two-week homestand beginning with matches on Thursday against San Diego State and on Saturday against UNLV. Both contests will begin at 7 p.m. and be broadcast live on BYU-TV.
“We are regrouping after our past road trip and look forward to meeting UNLV and SDSU in the Smith Fieldhouse this weekend,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding.
The Cougars had a disappointing road swing last week as they were swept at New Mexico and TCU. Senior middle blocker Rachel Dyer led the way for the Cougars in both matches with seven kills in each. Sophomore libero Melissa Lake was a bright spot for BYU in her second week of action as the starting libero. She tallied 14 digs at UNM and 15 at TCU, tying for match-high honors, while averaging 4.83 digs per set on the weekend.
Despite the rough weekend, the Cougars still have plenty to smile about, both individually and as a team. BYU is ranked 15th nationally in blocks per set with 2.76, a number bolstered by Ashton Hansen Hosford and Dyer, who rank 16th and 68th, respectively, in that category. The Cougars are also looking forward to playing five of their next seven matches at home, where their attendance average ranks 32nd nationally.
The San Diego State Aztecs are 4-10 overall and 1-3 in Mountain West Conference play with a win at Air Force. SDSU has suffered defeat against New Mexico, TCU and UNLV in league action. The Aztecs are led by all-around contributor Lauren Salisbury. The sophomore middle blocker ranks fourth in the league in kills (3.25), third in hitting percentage (.349), third in points (3.96) and ninth in blocks (1.08). In MWC play, her blocking tally jumps to 1.69, which is second in the conference. BYU is 36-16 all-time against the Aztecs after sweeping the season series last year.
The UNLV Rebels are 10-7 overall this season and 3-1 in Mountain West Conference play with wins over TCU, Air Force and San Diego State and their lone loss coming against New Mexico. Junior outside hitter Jessica Walters leads the team and ranks second in the MWC with 3.48 kills per set, which helps her come in sixth in the league with 3.67 points per set. Senior libero Camille Cunningham paces the conference with 5.24 digs per set, which also ranks 11th nationally. As a team, the Rebels are 32nd nationally with 12.57 digs per set. BYU owns a 21-4 all-time record against the Rebels.
In addition to live coverage on BYU-TV, both matches will also be available on BYU All-Access and GameTracker. Links to these options can be found by going to the schedule page of the BYU women’s volleyball homepage at http://www.byucougars.com/Schedule.jsp?SP=202.