LOS ANGELES — Down 2-0, Nicole Warner and Jennifer Hamson led the No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball team in its best comeback of the year to defeat Loyola Marymount 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-15, 15-8) Thursday in Los Angeles.
"Hats off to our girls for digging deep and finding a way to win that match," head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "It's tough to be down two and especially tough to be down two to a good team like LMU. They're a very good team. I'm happy for our girls. They did what they needed to do to win that match, which is impressive."
Warner had a career-high 17 blocks, obliterating her previous career high of 12. Hamson totaled 23 kills on .442 hitting and had 10 blocks for her third double-double of the season.
Libero Tia Withers led the team with a season-high 15 digs and was helped out by Jessica Jardine with 13, Gray with a career-high 12 and Heather Hannemann with 10. Hannemann also had 44 assists for her fourth double-double of the year. Gray recorded her first career double-double with 13 kills and her 12 digs.
BYU (16-1, 4-1) had a season-high 22 blocks (previous was 16). Loyola Marymount (10-7, 1-3) had two blocks.
After keeping the score close to start the first set, the Cougars let the Lions jump ahead 16-10. The Cougars tried to cut down the deficit but were only able to shave off a couple points before the Lions ended the set 25-20 on a kill by Caitlin DeWitt.
The Cougars let Loyola Marymount take the lead again in the second set, allowing the Lions to move ahead 6-2 on a block by Litara Keil and Kathleen Luft. Hamson stopped the run with back-to-back kills. BYU stormed back with a Gray kill to tie the set 13-13. Hamson and Warner got together to block Keil, taking the Cougars’ first lead of the set, 14-13.
Warner kept the team rolling, throwing down a kill to put BYU ahead 17-14 before Loyola Marymount went on a 6-1 scoring streak to retake the lead. Three kills in a row by DeWitt put the Lions ahead 24-19. BYU tried to prevent the win with a kill and a block, but Luft’s spike sent BYU to the locker room down 2-0 in the match.
A 6-1 BYU run opened the third set, but Cougar errors helped the Lions make a comeback. Loyola Marymount tied up the set 10-10 and took a 12-11 lead on another BYU error.
Hamson tied up the set 18-18 on a kill, launching a 7-0 Cougar run. Ahead 23-19, Gray and Warner blocked Amber Mirabello, setting Gray up to take the 25-20 set on a kill.
The Cougars kept the pressure up with the help of Dahl, who gave BYU a 7-4 lead on a kill in the fourth set. Kathryn LeCheminant went up for BYU’s 17th block of the night and put BYU ahead 20-15. BYU ran away with the next five points with the help of three consecutive Lion attack errors, taking the set 25-15 and sending the match to a fifth set.
Hamson and Warner led the charge in the fifth set, combining for two blocks to start the set. Hamson’s kill and another Warner block helped the Cougars to a 5-0 start in the final set, part of a 7-1 run. Loyola Marymount cut the lead to three points, but wasn’t able to recover. Warner secured the match with back-to-back blocks.
BYU will take a bye Saturday before resuming conference play at home Thursday. The Cougars welcome Portland to the Smith Fieldhouse Thursday at 7 p.m. before hosting San Francisco Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Rachel Hawks is the women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.