HOUSTON — Launching the 2012 season with a bang, junior outside hitter Jessica Jardine led the BYU women’s volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-12) victory in the team’s season opener on Friday, the first match of the Rice Invitational in Houston.
“We were excited to get out there and finally be able to kick off the 2012 season,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “It’s even better when you can kick it off with a win and a great performance by our team. I thought the girls played consistently well, even when they were down in the first set. They stayed the course and were able to come back and get the win.”
Jardine tallied a career-high 16 kills on .500 hitting, helped out by fellow junior Jennifer Hamson with 13 kills and newcomer Alexa Gray with 11. Heather Hannemann supported at setter with 43 assists, while freshman libero Ciara Parker led the back row with 14 digs. Defensive specialist Tia Withers had 10 digs.
Arkansas State scored first in the opening set, getting a 2-0 head start on BYU. The Cougars caught up on an attack error for a score of 6-5. It was the last time the Red Wolves would have the lead for the rest of the match. With the help of a Jardine kill, BYU tied the score, and a then Hamson kill put the Cougars in the lead. BYU put away the first set on a 5-1 run, winning the set 25-14.
The Cougars recorded one hitting error in the first set and were led by Jardine and Gray with five kills apiece.
BYU took a quick 6-1 lead in the second set and kept at least a four-point lead through much of the set. A kill by Jardine gave the Cougars their first 10-point lead of the set. Arkansas State never got closer than seven points after that, and BYU went to the locker room for the break with a 2-0 lead.
Five-straight kills by the Cougars, including back-to-back kills by Jardine, put BYU ahead 10-3 at the beginning of the final set. Attack errors didn’t help the Red Wolves’ cause, aiding BYU in a 7-2 run midway through the set. Before long, the Cougars had a 10-point lead again, and the end was in sight. Jardine finished off Arkansas State with a kill, assisted by Hannemann.
The Cougars meet Air Force in the first match on Day 2 of the Rice Invitational. The former conference foes face off at 10 a.m. CDT. Live stats are available for the match on the schedule page.
Rachel Hawks is the women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.
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