Pin hitters lead No. 14 BYU past rival No. 16 Utah in five
SALT LAKE CITY – The pin-hitting duo of Veronica Jones-Perry and McKenna Miller led No. 14 BYU women’s volleyball past rival No. 16 Utah in five sets (16-25, 25-13, 25-17, 20-25, 18-16) Thursday night at the Huntsman Center to claim the Deseret First Duel title.
“I thought we played great,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “I thought we were doing exactly what we wanted. That's volleyball. It's going to go either way. I'm so proud of our girls. We did a good job of distributing the ball tonight and getting our hitters in rhythm.”
Jones-Perry led the Cougars with 25 kills while Miller added 15. Alohi Robins-Hardy and Lyndie Haddock each set the team with 28 and 15 assists, respectively, while Mary Lake collected 23 digs. Kennedy Redding had five blocks and Sydnie Martindale had a career-high nine digs. Sara Hamson came off the bench, collecting seven kills on a .412 clip in the win.
Utah (8-2) took a 3-1 lead to begin the decisive fifth set against BYU (9-1), but the Cougars scored the next three points, capped off by a Miller ace, to go up 5-4. Three more points from BYU put it ahead 8-6, and the Cougars won a video-replay challenge to stay ahead by two at 10-8. BYU led by three, 12-9, after a Miller kill, but the Utes scored the next three to tie it at 12-all. The Cougars had four match points before a Robins-Hardy overpass kill ended the set and match 18-16.
Jones-Perry got the first point of the match for BYU, but Utah scored the next six-straight to take a 6-1 lead in the first set. The Cougars cut the lead to three at two different times, but the Utes stayed ahead 14-7 on a block. A kill from Miller helped BYU get back within six, down 18-12, but it wasn’t enough as Utah ended on a 3-0 run to take the set 25-16.
Back-to-back kills from Hamson helped propel the Cougars to a 7-0 rally and a 12-4 advantage to begin the second set. BYU led by as many as nine at 15-6 before the Utes went on a 3-0 run to cut the lead to six at 15-9. Consecutive Miller kills extended the Cougar lead back to eight, 19-11, before a Cosy Burnett kill gave BYU the set 25-13.
The Cougars took a 3-0 start in the third set after a pair of Jones-Perry kills. The lead was extended at 9-5 after consecutive Miller kills and then to 12-6, aided by three-straight Utah errors. A kill from Jones-Perry gave BYU a 17-9 lead, and a Hamson kill made it 21-14. A Ute service error gave the Cougars the set 25-17.
The two teams traded points to begin the fourth set as a Hamson kill evened the score at 7-7. The Utes scored the next five-straight points to go up 12-7, and three-consecutive Utah blocks extended the advantage to seven at 16-9. BYU countered with a 4-1 run to get back within four, down 17-13, but the Utes rallied with the next three to make it 20-13. Utah eventually won the set 25-20 on a kill, sending it to the decisive fifth set.
The Cougars return to the Smith Fieldhouse Friday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. MDT, playing host to Weber State. The match will be televised live on BYUtv. Links to live stats and a video feed 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.