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Cougar volleyball continues conference schedule

By Rachel Hawks

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Oct. 3 2011 9:18 p.m. MDT

PROVO, Utah — After a 1-1 California road trip, the BYU women’s volleyball team returns to the Smith Fieldhouse to take on Santa Clara Thursday at 7 p.m. before heading back to California to take on No. 20 Pepperdine Saturday at 1 p.m.

“We look forward to hosting Santa Clara on Thursday and hitting the road to play Pepperdine Saturday,” said BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead. “They’re both quality teams at the top of the West Coast Conference. We’re excited for the great opportunity to play Santa Clara at home after playing on the road last week. Immediately after that match, we’ll start preparing for Pepperdine.”

BYU (13-4, 2-1) had a record-setting 3-2 match against Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, with six players setting 11 individual records. The team also set a season record with 21 blocks.

Following the victory, the Cougars suffered a 3-0 setback against No. 17 San Diego but are looking to get back on their feet to be ready for Santa Clara and Pepperdine.

Off to its best start since 2006, one more victory would tie the total number of BYU wins from last season. Last week’s competition marked the halfway point for the season.

At the helm of Cougar offense, sophomore opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson has contributed 4.17 kills per set to lead the conference. She is aided by middle blocker Nicole Warner with 2.05 kills per set and setter Heather Hannemann, who has 598 assists on the season at 10.31 per set.

Three Cougars place in the WCC top 10 for blocks, Warner coming in at No. 1 with 1.67 per set, Hamson at No. 2 with 1.14 per set and Kathryn LeCheminant at No. 4 with 1.12 per set. Libero Kendalyn Hartsock is second in the conference for digs with 4.45 per set.

Still boasting the second-best overall record in the conference, the Cougars are tied with Santa Clara (7-7, 2-1) in conference standings while Pepperdine leads the pack with a perfect 3-0 West Coast Conference record. The Waves are 9-5 overall.

The Broncos defeated Portland and Gonzaga on the road last week, going 3-1 against both opponents. Thursday’s match marks Santa Clara’s third-straight road match in a series of four road matches. Santa Clara leads the conference in kills per set with 14.25 and places second in assists with 13.41.

Pepperdine faced Saint Mary’s last Thursday, where the Gaels pushed the match to five sets before the 3-2 Wave victory. Pepperdine has had five five-set matches this season, two against WCC opponents.

With 3.73 kills per set, Kim Hill leads the Waves’ offense and places second behind Hamson for kills in the league. Kelli Woolever is second in the WCC in assists with 632 at 10.71 per set. Lilla Frederick and Samantha Cash lead the defense with 3.29 digs per set and 1.08 blocks per set, respectively.

Admission to the Santa Clara match for children age 12 and under is free.

For links to live stats and free video streaming, click HERE.

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