No. 16 BYU Sweeps Portland in Season Opener
PORTLAND, Ore. – Senior Taylen Ballard-Nixon tied her career high of 14 kills to lead No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball to a sweep (25-9, 25-22, 25-17) against Portland in its season opener at the Chiles Center on Tuesday.
Ballard-Nixon recorded the match-high 14 kills on a .393 clip while adding seven digs and a pair of aces to her stat line. Sophomore opposite Kate Grimmer also reached double-digit kills with 10 on a .348 hitting percentage.
Sophomore setter Whitney Bower had 32 assists while helping the Cougars finish with a .379 team hitting percentage. Bower matched her career high of 18 digs and freshman libero Madi Allen totaled 17 digs in her first collegiate match. BYU’s strong defensive performance held Portland to a .108 hitting percentage.
BYU (1-0, 1-0 WCC) opened the first set of the match with an 8-0 run against Portland (0-1, 0-1 WCC), showing no rust from the extended offseason. The Cougars continued to dominate the set, extending their lead to 15-4. Grimmer led the squad with five kills while Ballard-Nixon recorded four kills of her own. BYU hit .500 in the first set while holding Portland to a -.034 hitting percentage to take the first set 25-9.
The second game was much more competitive to start than the first. Both teams went back and forth, tying the set at 10-all. Portland then scored three-straight points to break the deadlock and take the advantage. Three kills from freshman outside hitter Leilani Dodson helped BYU even the score up while an ace by Ballard-Nixon gave the Cougars the 23-22 lead. Two late errors cost the Pilots and completed the BYU comeback, 25-22.
The third set featured five lead changes before the Cougars took control of the game, 12-11. A pair of kills by both Ballard-Nixon and senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg helped BYU increase its lead to 23-14. Kills by Dodson and Grimmer secured the set, 25-17, and the sweep over Portland.
The Cougars and Pilots will play the second match of the two-match series Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 12 p.m. PST at the Chiles Center. The match will be broadcast live on the WCC Network.
BYU women’s volleyball season tickets for the upcoming 2023 campaign will go on sale beginning Wednesday, July 26.