BYU volleyball: Cougars suffer first loss of the season

By Rachel Hawks

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 29 2012 6:59 p.m. MDT

MORAGA, Calif.Jennifer Hamson’s 16 kills weren’t enough to pull off a win for the No. 11 BYU volleyball team, who dropped to 15-1 after a 3-1 (25-15, 25-11, 19-25, 26-24) loss to Saint Mary’s Saturday.

The Cougars are now 3-1 in West Coast Conference play.

“I thought Saint Mary’s did a wonderful job at executing their game plan,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We couldn’t control the ball on our side of the net. I thought that was the thing that really hurt us in the end.”

Hamson hit .419 against the Gaels (8-7, 3-1 WCC) and had four blocks. Freshman outside hitter Alexa Gray had 12 kills and three blocks, helped out by Heather Hannemann’s 43 assists. Tia Withers had 10 digs to lead the team. Warner led in blocks with eight.

Saint Mary’s skipped out to a 16-6 lead on a 13-2 run. Gray finally stopped the run with a kill and a block, helped out by Warner. BYU inched its way back but wasn’t able to handle tough play by Gael Gabby Jolly, who tallied four kills on .800 hitting in the set. The Cougars never recovered, dropping the 25-15 set to Saint Mary’s.

The Gaels once again took the lead in the second set, going ahead 6-2. BYU slowly let Saint Mary’s get away, only recording one point for every two Gael points until Saint Mary’s took a 10-point lead. Kristen Graven and Lauren Corp stepped up for the Gaels, each contributing five kills to help Saint Mary’s to its second set win, 25-11.

BYU tried to get going early in the third set, taking a 4-2 lead with the help of a kill by Warner. Freshman outside hitter duo Kimberly Dahl and Gray put BYU on 7-1 with a kill each and a service ace by Dahl. Kathryn LeCheminant posted her second solo block of the match, which Gray followed with another kill for an 11-5 lead. The teams exchanged points until Hamson had back-to-back kills that increased the lead to 16-8.

LeCheminant pushed the Cougars to a 19-9 lead — BYU’s largest lead of the match— with a block and a kill. Gray kept the Cougars rolling with two kills taking the score to 23-11 before Saint Mary’s responded with an 8-0 run. Warner and Gray blocked Corp to take the set 25-19.

In the fourth set, Saint Mary’s took the lead early, but Gray came back with a kill to tie up the set 8-8. A Gael service error gave BYU a brief edge before a Cougar attack error tied the score up at 13-13. Hamson turned up the heat at the net with back-to-back blocks, helped out by Warner on one and LeCheminant on the other.

Despite maintaining a two-point lead until they hit 23 points, the Cougars allowed Saint Mary’s to catch up and tie the set 23-23. Saint Mary’s took the 25-24 lead on an attack error and Jolly finished off the match on a kill.

BYU plays against Loyola Marymount Thursday at 7 p.m. PDT on the Lions’ home court.

BYU vs. Saint Mary's Box Score

Rachel Hawks is the women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.

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