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SAN FRANCISCO—A combined 37 kills from Cougar freshmen pushed the No. 11 BYU women’s volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-18, 25-19) victory against San Francisco Thursday on the Dons’ home court.
The win preserved BYU’s perfect 15-0 season record (3-0 WCC). San Francisco falls to 10-6 and 1-2 in conference.
“I was really impressed with the girls’ fight tonight,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We came back from a 23-16 deficit in set two and almost took that set. I was impressed with their being able to rebound after losing set two. “
Freshman outside hitter Alexa Gray had 19 kills to lead the Cougars on .417 hitting. Redshirt freshman Kimberly Dahl recorded 18 kills against the Dons, destroying her previous career high of five kills. Dahl also had three aces, another career high, and three digs. Libero Ciara Parker, also a freshman, had 25 digs, her second-best count of the season.
“Our outsides were phenomenal tonight, and they took some big swings at crucial times throughout the entire match that really helped us,” Olmstead said. “Ciara’s digging turned the tide for us at some crucial points and I thought we served pretty tough.”
BYU came up strong on the block, with Jennifer Hamson setting a career high with nine blocks and Nicole Warner tying her season high, also with nine blocks. Hamson was just shy of a triple-double with 10 digs and nine kills. Heather Hannemann helped out with 55 assists.
BYU out-blocked the Dons 13-6 and recorded 61 kills to San Francisco’s 45.
BYU took an easy lead early in the first set. Solid attacking kept the Cougars at least two points ahead until Hamson and Kathryn LeCheminant teamed up to block Ester De Vries, increasing the lead to 13-9. San Francisco followed two Gray kills with an attack error before the freshman outside hitter took yet another kill, pushing the lead to 20-13. Dahl finished off the set for the Cougars with two kills, taking the set 25-17.
San Francisco came back with full force in the second set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. BYU tried to get back in the game, but wasn’t able to get closer than two points away through most of the set. As the Dons inched closer to the coveted 25 points, the Cougars tried to overcome an eight-point lead with a 9-1 run. With San Francisco ahead 24-22, Dahl threw down a kill to bring the Cougars within one point, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 25-23 San Francisco win.
The lost set was BYU’s first since Sept. 1, ending an eight-match run of sweeping opponents.
Back on their game, the Cougars took a 6-1 run after the break. A Hamson kill increased that lead to 8-2 before the Dons took a timeout to regroup. The timeout didn’t cool the Cougars down as BYU snatched a 12-point lead on another of Gray’s kills. Down 18-4, San Francisco tried to stage a comeback on a 10-1 run, but BYU’s middle blockers dug in their heels, stopping the scoring streak with kills from LeCheminant and Warner. Parker aced a serve, getting BYU ready for a set point which LeCheminant took on a kill.
Neck-and-neck in the fourth set, the Cougars lost their early lead to San Francisco on a kill by Jocelyn Levig. The Dons kept the lead until BYU tied up the set 12-12. LeCheminant and Hamson blocked Levig to take back the lead. A 5-1 Cougar run put BYU ahead 16-13, a lead they maintained the rest of the set. San Francisco’s hopes of preventing an end to the match were crushed by two kills from Dahl separated by Hamson’s ace which finished off the set 25-19.
The Cougars now travel to Moraga, Calif., to meet Saint Mary’s Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT.
No. 11 volleyball heads to California
PROVO, Utah—Hitting the road for the first time in conference play, the No. 11 BYU women’s volleyball team faces San Francisco Thursday and Saint Mary’s Saturday.
The San Francisco match begins at 6:30 p.m. PDT and the Saint Mary’s match starts at 1 p.m. PDT.
Now 14-0 on the season and 2-0 in West Coast Conference play, the Cougars are having their best start since 2005, when the team went 20-0 before a loss. The BYU all-time record is 23-0 before a loss.
The Cougars have the best record in NCAA Division I volleyball. Only two other schools, Washington and Oregon, are undefeated. Both have an 11-0 record.
Four Cougars have landed in the top 20 of four individual categories in NCAA Division I volleyball. Setter Heather Hannemann is No. 7 for assists per set, with an 11.91 average. In blocking, Nicole Warner holds on to her No. 11 ranking, dishing out 1.48 blocks per set. Middle blocker Kathryn LeCheminant jumped to No. 8 for hitting percentage, hitting .433 (93-16-174). Jennifer Hamson contributes 5.04 points per set, good for No. 17 in the rankings.
As a team, BYU ranks No. 2 in Division I volleyball for hitting percentage (.336) and No. 5 for kills per set (14.85 average). The team is also No. 13 for assists per set (13.54 average) and is tied for No. 1 for win-loss percentage.
Hamson leads the BYU offense with 4.15 kills per set (191 total), supported by freshman outside hitter Alexa Gray with 3.43 per set (153 total). Setter Hannemann directs the floor with her 548 total assists and freshman libero Ciara Parker takes 5.0 digs per set (230 total). Warner and LeCheminant team up at the net with 1.48 and 1 .04 blocks per set, respectively. Hamson also helps out with her own 1.04 blocks per set.
Thursday, the Cougars took down No. 14 Pepperdine 3-0 in their first WCC match of the season. The team followed the victory with a 3-0 win against Gonzaga, BYU’s eighth-straight sweep and 11th sweep of the season. BYU hasn’t lost a set since Sept. 1 in the match vs. No. 14 Tennessee.
The Gonzaga match included BYU’s best set of the season, in which the team held Gonzaga to only seven points.
The Cougars are 3-0 in road games this season.
The Dons are 10-5 overall and 1-1 in the WCC after losing to San Diego and defeating Loyola Marymount in the first week of league play.
Jocelyn Levig leads San Francisco with 3.83 kills per set, helped out by setter Leanna Ludes’ 10.24 assists. Malina Terrell leads the team in blocking with .79 per set and Rebecca Kopilovitch leads in digs with 4.52.
BYU leads the series with San Francisco 4-0 after sweeping the 2011 series with two wins in conference play.
The Dons are undefeated at home this season with four wins.
The Gaels proved a challenge in BYU first season in the WCC. The two teams finished tied for third place with 10-6 conference records. Saint Mary’s won the 2011 series, defeating the Cougars in the BYU Invitational and splitting the league-play matches.
Saint Mary’s leads the overall series 3-5 after last season’s wins against the Cougars.
Kristina Graven contributes 3.24 kills per set to lead the Gaels, also adding 2.98 digs. Dalas Dodd leads in assists with 12.0 per set and Gabby Jolly leads in blocks with 1.21 per set.
Saint Mary’s is 5-7 in 2012 and 0-1 in conference play after losing 3-0 to Loyola Marymount
The Gaels haven’t won at home yet. The team is 0-2 in home matches.
How to watch
A link to live video streaming for the Saint Mary’s match is available on the Gaels’ schedule page with a monthly subscription to Saint Mary’s video content. The fee is $7.95. Live stats are available for free on the schedule page.