SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Alexa Gray’s career-high 23 kills wasn’t enough to prevent a tough 3-2 loss (31-29, 20-25, 25-21, 13-25, 16-14) to Santa Clara on the road Saturday, giving the team their second loss of the season.
"We didn't play our game," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "All credit to Santa Clara. They were the better team today. I thought we just had too many errors on our side of the court to be able to win a volleyball match."
BYU is now 19-2 on the season and 7-2 in conference, while Santa Clara improves to 16-7 overall and 5-3 on the season.
Gray hit .488 on the match and was helped out by Jennifer Hamson’s 17 kills. Nicole Warner had 12 blocks, passing former Cougar Lindsy Hartsock on the BYU all-time career block assists list. Warner now has 556 career block assists and is No. 4 for block assists in BYU history.
Despite taking the early lead in the first set, BYU allowed the Broncos to come back and tie up the set 7-7. Santa Clara went on to take an 11-7 lead before the Cougars could react. Neck-and-neck through the rest of the half, the teams tied 16 times with nine lead changes. Tied at 25-25, BYU kept the edge as the teams exchanged points until Santa Clara pulled off a block and kill to take the set 31-29.
The Cougars came back on fire in the second set with a 5-0 run. The Broncos fought back within two points, but Gray held them off with a kill. Gray continued to show up with unbeatable kills at just the right moment to preserve the two-point lead. The freshman outside hitter increased the lead to 21-15 on a kill, and the Broncos weren’t able to recover, giving BYU the 25-20 set.
Hamson and Gray kept BYU ahead in the third set until a 5-0 Santa Clara run put the Broncos in control 13-10. Well-placed kills increased Santa Clara’s lead to 19-14. Gray tried to stop the momentum with back-to-back kills, but it wasn’t enough to get BYU back on top. The Broncos won the third set 25-21.
After an 8-0 to run start the fourth set, BYU pushed its lead to 10 points in a 12-2 lead. A point exchange kept BYU ahead by 10 until two Bronco kills cut the lead to 15-7. The Cougars didn’t let the response stop them, and Kathryn LeCheminant took the 25-13 set on a kill, pushing the match to five sets.
But BYU couldn’t shake the Broncos in the fifth set, giving Santa Clara a momentary lead before jumping back ahead 10-9. BYU stayed ahead until the Broncos tied the set 14-14. Santa Clara’s 4-0 scoring streak took the set 16-14 and secured the match for the Broncos.
The Cougars continue their road play next week, taking on Gonzaga on Thursday before heading to Portland for a Saturday matchup against the Pilots.
Rachel Hawks is the women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.