Hamson and Cougars beat Portland in straight sets
PROVO, Utah – Senior Jennifer Hamson led No. 11 BYU women's volleyball to a three-set sweep of the Portland Pilots (25-16, 25-22, 25-21) Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
Hamson finished with a team-high 15 kills while hitting a clip of .519. Setter Camry Godfrey Willardson had 31 assists, four kills and seven digs. Alexa Gray added 12 kills of her own and Ciara Parker led the team with 11 digs. Both Amy Boswell and Whitney Young each contributed a team-high four blocks in the win.
“We had too many random errors tonight,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “But you learn from it, take the win and get ready for the next match.”
BYU opened the match strong and never looked back, winning the first set 25-16. Junior Willardson scored the first point of the set on a service ace and Gray and Young followed quickly with a block at the net to open up a quick 2-0 lead for the Cougars. BYU continued to build its lead throughout the set with a balanced attack. Six Cougars recorded a kill in the first set and Hamson, Gray and Tambre Nobles led the attack with three kills apiece. BYU hit at a clip of .435 and also had six players record a block.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair with neither team taking more than a two-point lead until a Boswell kill put the Cougars up 23-20. BYU won the set a few points later at 25-22 when a Portland player went into the net. The Cougars were led again by Hamson who had six kills in the set, including her 150th kill of the season. Boswell also came on strong with five kills of her own in the second set. Willardson recorded 14 assists. BYU continued its strong hitting with a .486 clip.
The Cougars opened up a 9-5 lead in the third set thanks to a Hamson service ace and an acrobatic save from Willardson. Over the next several points the Pilots closed the gap, bringing the score to 12-10 before the Cougars used a 4-0 run to push the lead to 16-10 and force a Portland timeout. Coming out of the break, the Pilots went on a 4-0 run of their own to force a BYU timeout with the Cougars up 16-14. The teams continued to trade points before BYU put the match away, winning the third set 25-21 on a Hamson kill.
“Heading into the Pepperdine match, we need to pass better,” Olmstead said. “One of our middles only had one kill. That’s not enough to compete at a high level.”
The Cougars play at Pepperdine Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. PDT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU. BYU will then return home Thursday, Oct. 2, for its Breast Cancer Awareness game against San Francisco. The game can be seen live on BYUtv at 7 p.m. MDT.
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