PROVO, Utah – The No. 21 BYU women’s volleyball team came out strong during its first home match of the season, defeating rival University of Utah 3-0 (24-14, 25-15, 26-24) Friday night to remain undefeated on the season.
“It’s always exciting to beat Utah, so that makes it a little more sweet and enjoyable,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I thought we played well, served tough, kept it on them, made digs in transition, and got good swings out of it too. Our passing and serving was just on par tonight.”
With the victory, the Cougars improved to 7-0, their best start since the 2005 season. Utah falls to 6-3 on the season. The win also gives BYU the Deseret Duel trophy for women’s volleyball and ties the overall Deseret Duel series between BYU and Utah at 3-3.
Jennifer Hamson and Alexa Gray led the charge for the Cougars contributing 16 kills and 13 kills, respectively. Hamson hit .625 to lead the Cougars. Jessica Jardine also made it into double figures with 11 kills and seven digs. Setter Heather Hannemann had 39 assists and nine digs, while Ciara Parker led on the back row with 17 digs. Defensive specialist Tia Withers had 12 digs.
Utah held close at the beginning of the first set, but the Cougars never trailed. Midway through the set, Gray contributed a consecutive kill and block giving BYU a 17-11 lead and forcing a Utah timeout. BYU never looked back and sealed the first set with a Hamson kill, 25-14.
In the second set, BYU and Utah traded points back and forth early on. Trying to keep within reach, Utah outside hitter Morgan Odale spiked the ball to bring Utah within one of the Cougars at 7-6. With her fourth kill of the set, Hamson put BYU up 14-10 and the Cougars never gave up the lead for the remainder of the set. Another kill from Hamson ultimately put the set away at 25-15.
Utah pushed BYU during the final set, but ultimately could not prevail. Down 16-13 and with the home crowd of 3,550 on their feet, Utah middle blocker Erin Redd served the ball out of bounds, sparking a 7-1 BYU run. The Utes tied it up at 24 apiece late into the match, but BYU’s Jessica Jardine was too much to handle for the Utes, forcing an attack error to seal the set 26-24.
The Cougars resume play tomorrow at the Smith Fieldhouse when they take on Bowling Green at noon MDT and Portland State at 7 p.m. MDT in the BYU Nike Invitational.
Chris Scheitinger is a student at Brigham Young University studying Public Relations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org