PROVO, Utah - In the opening match of the Saturday portion of the BYU Nike Invitational, the BYU women’s volleyball team defeated the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 3-1 (18-25, 25-14, 25-17, 25-9) at the Smith Fieldhouse.
With the victory, BYU picks up the first win of the season (1-1) and the first of new head coach Shawn Olmstead’s career. The Cougars hit .254 for the match and got better and better from start to finish, going from a .062 hitting percentage in the first set to close out the fourth on .417 hitting.
"Most importantly I'm excited and happy for the kids," head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Hopefully this win builds some confidence and we keep rolling as we play against Saint Mary's tonight."
Sophomores Jennifer Hamson and Jessica Jardine each had career-high performances. The 6-foot-6 Hamson tied her mark in kills with 17 and set a new record for digs with 18. Jardine had the most kills and digs of her career as well with 10 kills and eight digs.
In an exciting opening set, BYU jumped out to an 11-7 lead at one point before the Gauchos went on a 8-0 run to take the lead at 15-11. Both teams continued to battle back and forth but Santa Barbara would go on to win 25-18.
"We came out slow and tentative," Olmstead said. "Our ball control wasn't very good so it was hard for our setter to run the offense."
Hamson led the way for the Cougars with four kills and seven digs during the first set. Despite Hamson’s efforts BYU couldn’t keep up with five kills from the Gauchos’ outside hitter Leah Sully’s and the defense of libero Chelsea Lowe with 12 digs.
In set two, the Cougars opened up strong with a 10-5 lead. Later in the set, BYU would go on a 5-0 run and stretch their lead to 22-12 before finishing off UCSB 25-14 to tie the match at 1-1. BYU improved its hitting percentage from just .062 in the first set to a .286 clip.
Set three was tight to start with the score staying within three points and the Cougars holding an 11-8 lead. Jardine served up an ace to stretch the lead to 22-15. BYU pulled ahead to win 25-17 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
During the third set BYU continued to ramp up its hitting, going for a .400 clip to dominate the set. Hamson was strong again with a hitting percentage of .750 and delivering six kills with five digs. Junior middle blocker Nicole Warner proved valuable also, contributing three kills, one dig and assisted with two blocks.
"Once we started to calm down and control some things we started making plays," Olmstead said. "It's progress and it's us getting better and better."
The fourth set belonged to the Cougars as BYU jumped out to a 16-5 lead, powered by a 9-0 run. The duo of Hamson and Jardine led the way, combining for eight kills during the run. The team never looked back as they went on to a dominating 25-9 set victory and sealed the 3-1 match win.
Saturday’s slate continues with Saint Mary’s taking on No. 8 Illinois at 12 p.m. and then Illinois playing UC Santa Barbara at 5 p.m. To finish off the BYU Nike Invitational the Cougars will play again tonight at 8 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse against Saint Mary’s in a preview of future West Coast Conference play later in the year.
St. Mary's Falls to Illinois
PROVO, Utah—On the second day of the BYU Nike Invitational, St. Mary’s fell to Illinois 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-21) at the Smith Fieldhouse.
Posting an impressive zero errors in the first set, Illinois finished the match with only nine errors to St. Mary’s 28. Illinois also had strong defensive play from its front line, with a total of 16 team blocks. St. Mary's came out strong in the second set, but Illinois was able to regroup after a timeout and win the set. The third set saw multiple lead changes, and despite the fact that the Illini only posted a hitting percentage of .179, they pulled away with the third set and match.
Colleen Ward and Michelle Bartsch led the Fighting Illini, with 12 and 10 kills respectively, while Bartsch also posted 11 digs.
Jordan Shaw’s 10 kills led the Gaels, and Samantha Tinsley added 10 digs.
Up next in the BYU Nike Invitational, UC Santa Barbara will take on Illinois at 5:00 p.m. MT.
Women's Volleyball Opens Season
PROVO, Utah (Aug. 22, 2011)—After a Tuesday Blue and White Match, the BYU women’s volleyball team launches the 2011 season hosting the BYU Nike Invitational Friday and Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse.
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The Cougars welcome No. 8 Illinois, UC Santa Barbara and league-opponent Saint Mary’s to Provo.
“This is our first opportunity to measure progress so far,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We’re going against quality opponents. Each one of those teams is a good competitor. We’re excited to host the tournament and excited for our first weekend of play.”
The tournament starts with a matchup between Illinois and BYU at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a UCSB and Saint Mary’s matchup at 7:30 p.m. BYU and UCSB start off the second day of competition at 10 a.m., followed by matches between Illinois and Saint Mary’s at noon and UCSB and Illinois at 5:30 p.m.
BYU ends the tournament going head-to-head with Saint Mary’s in a preview for conference play at 8 p.m.
A qualifier for the 2010 NCAA Sweet 16, Illinois totaled 24 victories and a 14-6 conference record. The Illini bring back senior All-Americans outside hitters Colleen Ward, who led the team with 511 kills, and Michelle Bartsch, who totaled 448 kills and 104 blocks. Joining them is sophomore Jennifer Beltran who set a school season record with 623 digs in 2010.
UCSB returns AVCA All-America Honorable Mention Stacey Schmidt. Schmidt recorded 333 kills in 2010 for the Gauchos. UCSB went 16-13 in 2010 and 10-6 in conference.
Saint Mary’s went 20-8 in 2010 and ended second in the West Coast Conference with a 12-2 record. Seven letterwinners are returning for the Gaels and seven recruits will join the team. Among the Gaels’ returners are Lauren Corp, who recorded 301 kills and 288 digs last season, and Gabby Jolly, who totaled 263 kills and 106 blocks.
Prior to the match against Illinois, fans can participate in pre-game fun with the Cheer Squad, the Cougarettes and Cosmo starting at 4:30 p.m. between the Fieldhouse and the Richards Building. Admission is free to students with a student I.D. card or a freshman wristband for the Illinois match. Family passes are available for $10 (originally $15) and fans in attendance can receive a voucher for free admission to the Saturday match against Saint Mary’s. The UCSB match Saturday morning is free to all spectators.
Tuesday, the Cougars will scrimmage in the Blue and White Match at 5 p.m. in the Fieldhouse.
“The Blue and White Match is an opportunity for us to get our match routines in place,” Olmstead said. “We’ll get to see different lineups and rotations and see who plays well together on the court.”
Admission to the scrimmage is free.
* To accommodate a live TV broadcast, Saturday’s match against Saint Mary’s has been moved to 8 p.m.
** The Blue and White Match has been moved 5 p.m. Tuesday due to a BYU soccer match.