BYU volleyball: Cougars set out for Omaha for region semifinal

By Rachel Hawks

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4 2012 2:13 p.m. MST

PROVO, Utah — After finishing up home matches for the season with a perfect 14-0 record, the No. 12-seeded BYU women’ volleyball team catches a flight to Omaha, Neb., for the Round of 16 on Friday against No. 5-seed Oregon.

The Cougars (28-3, 13-3 West Coast Conference) swept New Mexico State and Oklahoma in the first and second rounds to get to the region semifinal match in Nebraska. BYU faces Oregon (27-4, 16-4 PAC-12) at the CenturyLink Center at 4 p.m. CST Friday on ESPN3. The winner of the match advances to the Omaha Region Final Saturday at 5:30 p.m. CST on ESPNU.

Host No. 4-seed Nebraska (25-6, 15-5 Big Ten) takes on No. 13-seed Washington (25-6, 15-2 PAC-12) on Friday in the second region semifinal match following the BYU match.

BYU

WCC Player of the Year Jennifer Hamson leads the Cougars with 4.07 kills per set and is backed up by WCC Freshman of the Year Alexa Gray’s 3.31 kills per set. Setter Heather Hannemann dishes out 11.19 assists to help the hitters.

On defense, Nicole Warner leads at the net with 1.81 blocks per set, good for No. 2 in Division I volleyball statistic rankings. Warner also hits .434, No. 6 in statistic rankings. On the back row, libero Tia Withers contributes 3.24 digs per set and freshman defensive specialist Ciara Parker averages 3.46 digs.

Four Cougars earned All-Pacific Region honors Tuesday. Hamson and Warner were named All-Pacific Refion, and Hannemann and Gray were given All-Pacific Region Honorable Mention. Head coach Shawn Olmstead was named Pacific Region Coach of the Year.

Oregon

At the head of the Ducks’ offense is Alaina Bergsma, who averages 4.92 kills per set. Bergsma is No. 5 in the NCAA for points per set with 5.44. Lauren Plum helps out with 13.26 assists per set, leading the nation in assists. Canace Finley leads the team with .76 blocks per set and Haley Jacob tallies 4.37 digs per set.

Oregon leads the NCAA in assists (14.89) and kills per set (15.94), and is No. 9 in hitting percentage (.295) and win-loss record.

The Cougars lead the series with Oregon 9-1. The teams haven’t faced each other since 1988, when the Cougars came away with a 3-0 win.

The Oregon players — Bergsma, Liz Brenner and Plum — were named All-Pacific Region. Jacob was given all-region honorable mention.

Nebraska

Gina Mancuso averages 3.43 kills per set to lead the Huskers, aided by Lauren Cook’s 11.12 assists per set. Hayley Thramer averages 1.19 blocks per set, while Hannah Werth collects 3.19 digs per set.

Nebraska leads the series with BYU 8-2 after defeating the Cougars 3-1 in 2010.

The Huskers are No. 31 in the NCAA for blocks per set (2.63) and No. 18 for win-loss percentage.

Cook, Mancuso and Werth were named All-Mideast Region. Meghan Haggerty was named all-region honorable mention.

Washington

The Huskies are led by Krista Vansant, who averages four kills per set. Katy Beals and Jenni Noqueras share time as setter, averaging 5.74 and 5.40 assists per set, respectively.

Amanda Gil leads the defense with 1.81 blocks per set to also lead the nation. Jenna Oriandini leads on the back row with 4.13 digs per set.

Washington leads the nation in blocks per set (3.36), is No. 22 in aces per set (1.54), is No. 28 in hitting percentage (.255) and is tied with Nebraska at No. 18 for win-loss percentage.

BYU leads the series with Washington 12-0. The Cougars last won in 2007, when they defeated the Huskies 3-2.

Vansant received All-Pacific Region accolades and Kylin Munoz received all-region honorable mention.

How to follow

Both region semifinal matches can be viewed on ESPN3. The region final match will be on ESPNU.

Live updates will be available on Twitter @BYUwvolleyball.

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

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