PROVO, Utah –Poor hitting and the inability to finish off points hurt the BYU women’s volleyball team, which fell 3-1 (26-28, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21) to Gonzaga at the Smith Fieldhouse Thursday night.
"I’m just not sure we had it from the get-go tonight, and you could feel it," said BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead. "It was almost tangible in fact. I've got to figure out why we responded that way. I’ve been telling the girls all week this isn’t a one-loss team, they’re good and they’re going to play tough. It shows the strength of our conference really. When we played them there, it was a tough four and tonight something just didn’t sink in. They played really well. Hats off to their players and coaches."
The Cougars (20-9, 9-6) are only the second conference opponent Gonzaga (8-19, 2-14) has beaten this season. The loss is also the second consecutive for BYU.
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Christie Carpenter led the Cougars with 12 kills and 14 digs. Casey Thurston added 13 kills as well to tie her career high. Libero Kendalyn Hartsock put in a solid effort with 22 digs and setter Heather Hannemann 45 assists. Jennifer Hamson also tied a career high with seven block assists.
BYU started the night off right winning a seesaw battle of a first set. At 10-all, the Bulldogs went on a 5-2 run, prompting a BYU timeout. The Cougars continued to struggle out of the first timeout, allowing the Zags to push the lead to 18-13. However, a 9-3 run by the Cougars gave them the lead at 21-20. Gonzaga rallied right back and had two chances to close out the set, but the Cougars denied them both times, before taking it 28-26. From that point on, however, it was all Zags.
Gonzaga jumped out early to a 7-4 lead in the second set, but again the Cougars roared back, tying it 9-9. At one point middle blocker Nicole Warner flexed her muscles for BYU, slamming the ball into the face of her opponent for a kill, invigorating the crowd. But again Gonzaga rallied tying it at 19-all. While the Zags were able to get kill after kill, BYU was kept at bay, losing the set 25-22.
After losing middle blocker Kathryn Lecheminant late in the second set, replacement Kimberli Boswell proved her worth early in the third with two kills for the Cougars. Down 11-8, Hamson followed a kill with a block, bringing the Cougars within one. Not to be denied, Gonzaga caught fire again, pushing its lead to 14-10. The Cougars battled right back behind two kills from Thurston, but each time the momentum began to sway, Gonzaga would go on a run of its own, capitalizing on BYU mistakes for 25-22 third-set victory.
With all the momentum, Gonzaga won the first two points of the fourth set. Lecheminant, who had been injured earlier, came back with authority, crushing the ball to cap off a 3-0 run by the Cougars, but it was not enough as Gonzaga finished them off with a 25-21 fourth-set victory.
The Cougars will be back in action at Elaine Michaelis Court Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. for Senior Day, when they play host to the Portland Pilots.
Volleyball Enters Last Week of League Play
PROVO, Utah—In the final week of regular season, the BYU women’s volleyball team welcomes Gonzaga and Portland to the Smith Fieldhouse to close out a successful run in its inaugural season as a member of the West Coast Conference.
"We are excited to host Gonzaga and Portland this week," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Each and every opponent in this conference presents different schemes and systems and we'll plan accordingly starting with Gonzaga on Thursday."