PROVO, Utah -- With a season record-setting night from Jennifer Hamson, the No. 16 BYU women's volleyball team avenged its only loss of the season, beating the Saint Mary's Gaels in three sets (25-22, 25-12, 25-18) during the Dig Pink match Thursday at Elaine Michaelis Court.
"First and foremost we learned that we knew we could play with these guys if we passed really well," head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We did that a lot better and I was happy for these girls that they stepped up that part of the game."
Hamson set the BYU season record for most kills in a three-set match, finishing with 21. Alexa Gray also finished in double figures, tallying 11 kills on the night. Hamson also had nine digs to lead the Cougars. Heather Hannemann recorded 37 assists and Nicole Warner had five blocks.
The first set began as a back-and-forth affair, with neither team leading by more than three points until BYU (19-1, 7-1 WCC) went on a 5-0 run to take a 14-10 lead. Hamson had two kills during the run and finished the set with eight, leading all players. The Cougars led by as many as six points during the opening set, but the Gaels (10-9, 5-3 WCC) were able to tie the game at 21 apiece. After a BYU timeout, the home team went on a 4-1 run to win the set 25-22, capped by a service ace by libero Tia Withers.
Hamson added another three kills as BYU opened the second set on a 7-2 run. Saint Mary's called a timeout to try to curb the home team's momentum, but the Cougars continued to roll, using a 9-2 run to bump the lead to 16-4. The teams traded points for the remainder of the set, but BYU's lead was never seriously challenged on its way to a 25-12 win. Hamson had a total of seven kills in the set and Gray added four more.
Down 4-1 early in the third set, the Cougars showed team strength as Hamson, Gray, Warner and Kathryn LeCheminant chipped in at least two kills each to put BYU back on top at 15-13 before the media timeout. Hamson eclipsed the old kill record with her 19th of the night to put the home team up 16-14. Saint Mary's was never able to close the gap and Hamson gave the Cougars the 25-18 win with her 21st and final kill.
Olmstead spoke of the importance of solid team passing and service in the team's win and also commented on Hamson's strong play.
"Jennifer just had a great overall game," Olmstead said. "We shouldn't be surprised because we know she can do it and she's done it before at times, but it's exciting for her to do it against a team like this."
The Cougars hit the road to play Santa Clara on Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT.
Volleyball plays one at home, one on the road
PROVO, Utah—In the first split week of the season, the No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball team plays one match against Saint Mary’s at home before hitting the road to play Santa Clara.
The Saint Mary’s rematch will start at 7 p.m. MDT Thursday at the Smith Fieldhouse and will be BYU’s Dig Pink match for cancer awareness. The Cougars will face Santa Clara Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT in Santa Clara, Calif.
BYU is 18-1 on the season, good to tie for the best win-loss record in NCAA Division I volleyball. The Cougars are tied with Penn State, which is ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. BYU is in second place in the league with a 6-1 record in West Coast Conference play.
Two senior Cougars rank in the top 20 in NCAA stats, with middle blocker Nicole Warner No. 6 for blocks per set (1.62) and setter Heather Hannemann No. 15 for assists per set (11.48). Overall the team ranks No. 1 for hitting percentage (.319) and No. 13 in blocks per set (2.92).
BYU is 7-0 on Elaine Michaelis Court and looks to continue that unbeaten streak against Saint Mary’s. The Gaels handed the Cougars their only loss of the season on Sept. 29, when Saint Mary’s won 3-1 in Moraga, Calif.
The Gaels are 10-8 on the season and 5-2 in conference. Though not ranked, Saint Mary’s has been receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll since Oct. 1. Last week, the Gaels defeated Gonzaga 3-0 Saturday after having a bye on Thursday.
Saint Mary’s leads the series 5-3 after defeating BYU in September.
The Gaels are led by Kristina Graven who averages 3.48 kills per set. Dalas Dodd helps out with 12.22 assists per set (No. 4 in NCAA stats) and Sarah Reams leads the back row with a 3.41 digs average.
BYU meets Santa Clara for the first time this season after sweeping the Broncos in 2011. The Cougars lead the series 3-0-0 after two 3-0 wins last year.
Santa Clara is 14-7 overall and 4-3 in conference so far. Last week the Broncos fell to Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The team has a non-conference match Tuesday against Sacramento State before facing BYU on Saturday.
Taylor Milton leads the Broncos with 2.88 kills per set and Katherine Douglas records 2.44 digs per set. At the net, Lacey Maas leads with 1.57 blocks per set.
How to watch
BYUtv will broadcast the Saint Mary’s match. Live video streaming will be available on BYUtvsports.com. Live streaming and live stat links can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.
Fans who wear pink to the Thursday match will be eligible for a $3 ticket.
Live video streaming and live stats for the Santa Clara match are available on the match’s Game Central page.