Gray leads No. 9 Cougars past Idaho State in five-set thriller
PROVO, Utah–Led by Alexa Gray, No. 9 BYU women’s volleyball topped Idaho State in a five-set thriller (25-7, 20-25, 21-25, 25-14, 15-12) Wednesday night at the Smith Fieldhouse. With the victory, the Cougars improve to 6-1 on the season.
"Idaho State's a good team," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "Obviously, we overwhelmed them in the first set with the crowd and our energy. They had a lot of serving pressure and got us on our heels. We knew we had to go five if we wanted to win after losing sets two and three, so we just went out and played as if we had nothing to lose. The girls just looked each other in the eyes and said, 'it's now or never.' It was nice to see them fight back and win."
Gray led the Cougar offense with 19 kills and four assists. Amy Boswell totaled a new career-high 12 kills, while adding seven blocks. Freshman Danelle Parady also marked a new career-high on the night with seven kills. Jaiden Achermann set a new career-best mark with 11 digs on the match. Ciara Parker collected a career-high four service aces in the win.
In a dramatic fifth set, BYU jumped out to a 5-2 lead on a Camry Godfrey Willardson kill, forcing an Idaho State timeout. The Cougars came out of the timeout with a kill apiece from Gray and Boswell, pushing the score to 7-2. The Bengals then brought themselves within striking distance after a kill that brought the score to 12-8. The Cougars conceded three quick points before a Cosy Burnett kill brought BYU to its first match point, 14-11. Idaho State inched closer on a quick kill, but Burnett struck again to end the set and match, giving BYU the win 15-12.
The Cougars took the first set in quick fashion, with Parker notching three consecutive service aces early. Idaho State was forced to take a timeout to end a 10-3 run after a Whitney Young Howard kill. The Cougars then went on a 15-4 run to take the set 25-7, and finished with a .632 clip.
BYU conceded the second set to the Bengals after struggling to find an offensive rhythm. The Cougars kept things close early, only trailing by a score of 5-4, before Idaho State jumped out to an 8-2 run that put the Bengals up 13-6. BYU fought back to 15-10 with kills from Burnett, Gray and Boswell, but could not catch up to the Bengals, losing the set 25-20. BYU gave up nine errors with just 11 kills during the set.
Both teams rallied to begin the third set, with the Cougars tying things up at 6-6 after a Boswell kill. The Bengals then jumped ahead 15-11, but two kills from Gray pulled the Cougars to within two points. Idaho State extended the lead to 17-13 shortly after, forcing a BYU timeout. Two kills from Boswell and one from Gray brought the score to within one at 17-16, but Idaho State finished the Cougars and took the set 25-21.
The Cougars fought back In the fourth set, jumping out to a quick 6-4 advantage. BYU extended its lead to 9-4 after two kills apiece from Gray and Parady. The Cougars and Bengals traded scores, but BYU pushed the score to 15-8 after Parady’s fifth kill of the set. BYU ended the set on a 10-6 run, with kills from Gray, Boswell and Parady bringing the set score to 25-14.
BYU will move on to host Oregon State Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and can also be streamed through the BYUtv sports website.
BYU women’s volleyball season tickets for the upcoming 2023 campaign will go on sale beginning Wednesday, July 26.