WICHITA, Kan.—Jennifer Hamson’s career-high 25 kills led the BYU women’s volleyball team to a 3-2 (25-15, 24-26, 25-17, 24-26, 18-16) victory against host Wichita State in the Cougars’ opening match of the Shocker Volleyball Classic Friday.
“It was nice to be tested like that,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “It was even better to come out on top like we did tonight. I liked that when the girls were down in the last set, they recovered well. There were moments we didn’t play that great, but the girls were able to rebound."
Hamson also recorded a career-high number of attempts, with 58. With 12 digs on top of that, Hamson had her first double-double of the season. Freshman outside hitter Alexa Gray aided Hamson with her own career high of 16 kills and junior Jessica Jardine had 10 with 11 digs for the team's second double-double of the night.
Senior setter Heather Hannemann also tallied a career high with 57 assists and freshman Ciara Parker broke her career high in digs with 27. Hannemann had 12 digs for a third BYU double-double. Senior Nicole Warner led the blockers with nine, a season high.
Gray led the charge in the final set, opening with two kills to take the early lead. Wichita State caught up at 8-8 on a kill by Elizabeth Field, and a Shocker block put the home team ahead 9-8. Mary Ashton Floyd pushed Wichita State farther ahead to 11-8 with a kill, but three kills from the rookie Gray helped BYU tie it up 13-13. A fourth kill from Gray gave the Cougars the 14-13 lead. When Wichita State stole the lead back at 16-15, Jardine stepped up with a kill before two Shocker errors ended the tie breaker battle.
Stuck in a dead heat to start the fourth set, BYU battled through 10 ties before Jardine broke away on a kill to put the Cougars ahead 12-10. The Shockers stayed within three until Wichita State’s Katie Reilly started another round of ties by tying the score 16-16 on a kill.
Five ties later, a BYU ball handling error followed by a Shocker service ace put Wichita State in a 23-21 lead. BYU’s attempts to prevent a fifth set proved futile, as the Shockers held tight to their two-point lead for a 26-24 finish.
The Cougars wasted no time in the first set, jumping to a 7-3 lead on a 7-0 run. The Shockers couldn’t get back on their feet through the rest of the set, falling behind by as much as 10. A Shocker service error ended the set, giving the Cougars a 25-15 victory.
Unable to make a comeback in the first set, the Shockers rallied in the second. A 6-0 run, fueled by Cougar errors, put Wichita State in the lead 7-2 before BYU could react.
Warner launched a comeback attempt with a kill, putting the score at 22-14 for the Shockers. Following a pair of errors by Wichita State, Hamson threw down a kill, setting up Tia Withers to tie the match at 23-23 on a service ace. The teams struggled for the lead, but Wichita State came up with the 26-24 victory to tie the match 1-1.
Hannemann started the third set right with a service ace for the first point in a 7-1 scoring streak for the Cougars. Kills from Jardine helped maintain the lead with the help of Wichita State’s seven errors. As the set neared its close, Shocker Emily Adney gave the Cougars trouble with four kills in a Wichita State 5-2 run. Gray stepped up in response to Adney’s run, dishing out two kills before Hamson, and a Shocker error finished off the set 25-17.
“We’re excited to start the tournament like that,” Olmstead said. “On to the next two tomorrow.”
The Cougars face two ranked teams Saturday, starting with No. 24 Colorado State at noon CDT and No. 14 Tennessee at 7 p.m. CDT.
Rachel Hawks is the women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.