McCarthey Athletic Center
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SPOKANE, Wash.—Great blocking and opponent errors helped the No. 18 BYU women’s volleyball team upend Gonzaga 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-22) on the road Thursday.
BYU improves to 20-2 on the season and 8-2 in the West Coast Conference, while Gonzaga drops to 9-14 and 1-9 in conference.
"We like to come out here and get a win," head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "I thought we weren't as consistent as we should be, but the ball rolled our way a few times more than theirs. I thought Gonzaga dug really well. They out-dug us. That shows some fight and some heart that is always good to see from your opponent. They played well and at times got us a little flustered."
Jennifer Hamson and Alexa Gray kept BYU in control with 12 kills and nine kills, respectively. Hannemann aided with 36 assists and Tia Withers had 11 digs. At No. 3 in the nation for blocks per set, Nicole Warner proved her worthiness of the position with eight blocks during the match.
The team’s 12 blocks spurred the Cougars to victory, but Gonzaga’s 28 attack errors kept the Bulldogs from taking any lead.
The Bulldogs didn’t give BYU the first set easily. Despite taking a 5-2 lead on a Ciara Parker ace, the Cougars let Gonzaga come back to tie it up 5-5. Six more ties followed during the first set until Warner’s block started a 6-2 BYU run. Hamson finished off the set on a kill, giving BYU a 25-21 victory.
BYU had only a slightly easier time shaking off the Bulldogs in the second set. Aided by two kills from the Cougars’ freshman outside hitters, BYU broke out of a 6-6 tie. Warner marched the Cougars ahead to a 12-8 lead with back-to-back blocks. Gonzaga came back within two when Bulldog Katie Rutherford’s kill put the score at 15-13, but Hamson didn’t let her get away with much and answered with a kill of her own. The rest of the set, BYU stayed ahead by at least three and finished off the second set 25-16 with a Warner and Hamson block.
Gonzaga attack errors helped BYU to an easy lead in the final set. The Cougars went ahead 7-3 on a Bulldog service error. Hannemann and Warner increased that lead to 10-5 blocking Bulldog Jordan Gasser. Gonzaga once again came back within two points at 21-19 before Jessica Jardine set up Hannemann for a kill to stop the Bulldogs’ momentum. Dahl and LeCheminant finished off the match with a block.
BYU now travels south to Portland to take on the Pilots at 3 p.m. PDT Saturday.
Cougar volleyball visits the Northwest for two matches
PROVO, Utah—Now 19-2 on the season, the No. 18 BYU women’s volleyball team heads to the Northwest for matchups against Gonzaga Thursday and Portland Saturday.
BYU (7-2 West Coast Conference) faces the Bulldogs (9-13, 1-8 WCC) at 6 p.m. PDT on Thursday before traveling south to face the Pilots (6-17, 0-9 WCC) at 3 p.m. PDT, Saturday.
Three Cougars rank in the top 25 for NCAA stats with Nicole Warner coming in at No. 3 for blocks per set (1.68). Heather Hannemann is No. 20 in assists per set with 11.36 and Jennifer Hamson jumped to No. 21 for points per set with 4.91.
BYU stayed at the top of the pack for hitting percentage at .319 and came in at No. 13 for blocks per set (2.95). Last week’s loss to Santa Clara dropped BYU from first place in win-loss record to No. 4, behind only Penn State (20-1), Oregon (18-1) and Central Arkansas (22-2).
Four WCC teams were ranked in this week's AVCA Coaches Poll with San Diego coming in at No. 14, Pepperdine at No. 23 and Saint Mary's at No. 25. The last time the conference had four teams ranked was in 2008 when San Diego was ranked No. 14, Santa Clara No. 22, Pepperdine No. 23 and San Francisco No. 25.
The Cougars are No. 15 in the RPI rankings, the highest in the conference.
The Cougars took down the Bulldogs in three sets in the teams’ first meeting this season. BYU leads the series 6-1-0.
Gonzaga comes off a loss to No. 24 Pepperdine last week.
Savannah Blinn leads Gonzaga on offense with 3.39 kills per set. Lauren Joseph dishes out 4.80 assists per set, while Kristina Lavrisha averages 3.86 digs. Meredith Crenshaw leads in blocking with 0.93 per set.
BYU has already met success against the Pilots this season, defeating them 3-0 at the beginning of October. BYU now leads the all-time series 3-0-0.
The Pilots will face San Francisco on the Dons’ home court Thursday before taking on BYU.
Ariel Usher leads the Pilots with 2.91 kills per set, helped out by Monica Jordan’s 5.48 assists average. On defense are Jacky Rodriguez with 3.10 digs per set and Rachel Femling with 0.87 blocks per set.
How to watch
Find live video streaming and live stats for the Portland match on Portland’s Game Central page.