Cougars sweep Lions in nailbiter
PROVO, Utah - Sophomore Alexa Gray tied her season-high of 22 kills to lead the No. 21 BYU women’s volleyball team to a sweep (30-28, 29-27, 25-21) over Loyola Marymount Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"I really felt like that was a five-set match," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "It took a lot out on us and it just felt draining and exhausting. Statistically, our stats were one of the better ones this year and for our girls to gut it out, that was big time."
With Thursday night's win, BYU improved to 18-4 on the season and 11-1 in the West Coast Conference, while LMU dropped to 11-10 on the season and 6-6 in conference play. The Cougars remain on top of the WCC by one game.
Gray tied her season-high of 22 kills for match point on 40 attempts and finished the game on a team-high .450 clip, with only four errors.
"Alexa has that (winning instinct) and we tell her all the time to finish out strong," Olmstead said. "She loves those moments and she did it in every set at the end and took some really big time swings."
Setter Camry Godfrey led the team on assists with 45, to go along with 10 digs, while Tambre Haddock finished with 16 kills on 35 attempts and eight digs. Senior Kathryn LeCheminant finished with a .438 hitting percentage consisting of eight kills and just one error, two aces and four digs. Ciara Parker had a team-high 19 digs out of a total of 60 for the team with Tia Withers Welling adding six of her own. Middle blocker Whitney Young added seven of BYU's 10 total blocks for the match.
The first set was a back-and-forth battle until BYU got the 30-28 win on Junior Hannah Robison’s kill. The Cougars started the set 3-1 with a pair of kills from Gray that was followed by a 4-0 run by the Lions. After playing from behind, BYU tied it at 15 and went up 22-20 to force Loyola Marymount to call timeout. Gray’s kill gave the Cougars the 24-21 lead, but the Lions came back to tie it at 25. Young’s kill gave BYU the set point, which was followed by Robison’s kill to end the set. The first set was the longest set for the Cougars this season.
BYU took the second set 29-27 after going back and forth again. Haddock put the first points on the board with a kill and gave BYU the early 8-4 start until Loyola Marymount took the lead. Gray’s kill tied the set at 10, which was followed by a 4-0 run by the Lions. Senior Jessica Jardine’s kill gave BYU the 17-16 advantage that was then followed by a pair of kills from Haddock. Loyola Marymount came back from a five-point deficit to tie it at 24, but BYU ended it on a block and a Lion error to take the second set.
Gray started and ended the third and final set with a kill to tie her season-high of 22 kills. The Cougars battled back and forth until they took the 23-21 lead and didn’t look back, taking it 25-21. BYU finished the set with a .429 hitting percentage.
The Cougars stay home to play Pepperdine for the second time this season on Saturday at 1 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised live by BYUtv. Links to live stats can be found on the BYU women's volleyball schedule page.
BYU women’s volleyball season tickets for the upcoming 2023 campaign will go on sale beginning Wednesday, July 26.