Season ends with NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon
OMAHA, Neb. – A magical season for BYU women’s volleyball came to an end on Friday as the No. 12 seed Cougars fell 3-1 (23-25, 21-25, 25-22, 12-25) to No. 5 seed Oregon in the Round of 16 at the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
BYU finishes the season at 28-4 overall, the most victories for a Cougar team since 1999. This season also marked BYU’s first conference title since 2005 and first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2007. The 2012 squad includes the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year (Shawn Olmstead), Player of the Year (Jennifer Hamson), Freshman of the Year (Alexa Gray) and Defensive Player of the Year (Nicole Warner).
"When I got this job, I told the girls, 'Buckle up. Hold on. We're going to turn this thing around.' Like I've said a thousand times, I felt we were one loss away from being in the tournament last year," Olmstead said. "This year we made it, and being able to win some matches is a positive that these girls have to cling to moving forward. There are a lot of positives."
Hamson led the way for the Cougars Friday night with 18 kills on .364 hitting while Gray added eight, and Warner and Kathryn LeCheminant tallied seven apiece. Ciara Parker led BYU with 15 digs while Heather Hannemann (12), Jessica Jardine (10) and Tia Withers (10) were also in double figures. Hannemann dished out 42 assists and the Cougars hit .259 as a team. Warner had a hand in seven of BYU’s nine blocks as she registered one solo block and six block assists.
"Hats off to Oregon, definitely," Olmstead said. "They did an outstanding job this season. I felt they did a great job tonight. They got us definitely out of system, out of our style of play. That's a credit to them, their coaching staff and their athletes for executing the game plan really nicely. I felt those moments where they got us out of wack really got us in the end."
Despite hitting .500 and getting six kills from Hamson, BYU fell 25-23 to Oregon in the first set. The Cougars led for much of the set and by as many as three at 18-15 following a block by Warner and Hannemann. With BYU leading 21-19, Oregon tallied back-to-back kills to tie the score at 21-all. After Hamson gave the Cougars the lead at 22-21, Alaina Bergsma sandwiched a Katherine Fischer ace with two kills to set up Oregon’s first set point at 24-22. Kimberly Dahl extended the set one more point with a kill but Liz Brenner tallied a kill to claim the set for the Ducks at 25-23.
Set two was all Oregon early as the Ducks built a 6-3 lead with two blocks, two kills and two aces. After two more Bergsma kills gave Oregon a 10-7 lead, BYU responded with a 9-2 run to take a four-point lead at 16-12. Warner started the rally with a kill and then teamed up with Hamson for a block to close the gap to one at 10-9. Hamson had two more kills and Warner and LeCheminant added kills of their own to polish off the run. Following an Oregon timeout the Ducks went on an 8-1 run to take the lead and seize control. Gray added two more kills but it was not enough as Oregon ended the set on a Bergsma kill for the 25-21 victory.
Hamson and the Cougars stayed alive with a hard-fought win in set three, 25-22. BYU gained some separation at 12-9 with a 3-0 run that included a Gray-Warner block and a Hamson kill. The Cougars looked to win the set going away as they opened a 19-12 lead on a 7-1 run that included kills from four different players and an ace by Withers. Oregon would not go quietly, however, answering BYU with an 8-2 run to get within one at 21-20. Gray settled the Cougars down with a kill and then Hamson had kills on BYU’s last three points to give them the win in set three.
Oregon controlled the fourth set from the start, jumping out to a 9-2 lead. Back-to-back kills by LeCheminant pulled BYU within five at 11-6 but the Ducks proved too strong, closing the set with an 8-1 run to win 25-12 and take the match.
Hamson was selected for the Omaha Regional All-Tournament Team.
Cougars set out for Omaha for region semifinals
PROVO, Utah—After finishing up home matches for the season with a perfect 14-0 home record, the No. 12-seeded BYU women’ volleyball team catches a flight to Omaha, Neb., for the Round of 16 Friday against No. 5-seed Oregon.
The Cougars (28-3, 13-3 West Coast Conference) swept New Mexico State and Oklahoma in the first and second rounds to get to the region semifinal match in Nebraska. BYU will face Oregon (27-4, 16-4 PAC-12) at the CenturyLink Center at 4 p.m. CST Friday on ESPN3. The winner of the match advances to the Omaha Region Final Saturday at 5:30 p.m. CST on ESPNU.
Host No. 4-seed Nebraska (25-6, 15-5 Big Ten) will take on No. 13-seed Washington (25-6, 15-2 PAC-12) Friday in the second region semifinal match following the BYU match.
WCC Player of the Year Jennifer Hamson leads the Cougars with 4.07 kills per set and is backed up by WCC Freshman of the Year Alexa Gray’s 3.31 kills per set. Setter Heather Hannemann dishes out 11.19 assists to help the hitters.
On defense, Nicole Warner leads at the net with 1.81 blocks per set, good for No. 2 in Division I volleyball statistic rankings. Warner also hits .434, No. 6 in statistic rankings. On the back row, libero Tia Withers contributes 3.24 digs per set and freshman defensive specialist Ciara Parker averages 3.46 digs.
Four Cougars earned All-Pacific Region honors Tuesday. Hamson and Warner were named All-Pacific Refion, and Hannemann and Gray were given All-Pacific Region Honorable Mention. Head coach Shawn Olmstead was named Pacific Region Coach of the Year.
At the head of the Ducks’ offense is Alaina Bergsma, who averages 4.92 kills per set. Bergsma is No. 5 in the NCAA for points per set with 5.44. Lauren Plum helps out with 13.26 assists per set, leading the nation in assists. (The next closest assists average is 12.36.) Canace Finley leads the team with .76 blocks per set and Haley Jacob tallies 4.37 digs per set.
Oregon leads the NCAA in assists (14.89) and kills per set (15.94), and is No. 9 in hitting percentage (.295) and win-loss record.
The Cougars lead the series with Oregon 9-1. The teams haven’t faced each other since 1988, when the Cougars came away with a 3-0 win.
The Oregon players--Bergsma, Liz Brenner and Plum--were named All-Pacific Region. Jacob was given all-region honorable mention.
Gina Mancuso averages 3.43 kills per set to lead the Huskers, aided by Lauren Cook’s 11.12 assists per set. Hayley Thramer averages 1.19 blocks per set, while Hannah Werth collects 3.19 digs per set.
Nebraska leads the series with BYU 8-2 after defeating the Cougars 3-1 in 2010.
The Huskers are No. 31 in the NCAA for blocks per set (2.63) and No. 18 for win-loss percentage.
Cook, Mancuso and Werth were named All-Mideast Region. Meghan Haggerty was named all-region honorable mention.
The Huskies are led by Krista Vansant, who averages four kills per set. Katy Beals and Jenni Noqueras share time as setter, averaging 5.74 and 5.40 assists per set, respectively.
Amanda Gil leads the defense with 1.81 blocks per set to also lead the nation. (Though her average blocks number rounds out to the same as Warner’s, Gil leads by less than .001 blocks.) Jenna Oriandini leads on the back row with 4.13 digs per set.
Washington leads the nation in blocks per set (3.36), is No. 22 in aces per set (1.54), is No. 28 in hitting percentage (.255) and is tied with Nebraska at No. 18 for win-loss percentage.
BYU leads the series with Washington 12-0. The Cougars last won in 2007, when they defeated the Huskies 3-2.
Vansant received All-Pacific Region accolades and Kylin Munoz received all-region honorable mention.
How to follow
Both region semifinal matches can be viewed on ESPN3 at www.espn.go.com/watchespn. The region final match will be on ESPNU.
Live updates will be available on Twitter @BYUwvolleyball.