“Everybody played well,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We made some key plays and everyone was ready to go.”
Gray had 21 kills, many of those coming in the decisive fifth set, and had a hitting percentage of .452. Tambre Haddock had 20 kills and paced the Cougars in many key moments. Camry Godfrey and Ciara Parker contributed 21 and 18 digs, respectively. Kathryn LeCheminant contributed nine kills and six blocks, and Jessica Jardine had 12 kills and 11 digs for her second double-double of the season.
“We’ve lost some close ones this season so we know how that feels,” Haddock said. “We just had to dig deep.”
After falling behind early in the fifth set, three straight points gave the Cougars a 6-5 lead. Consecutive kills by Gray and Hanna Robison extended the lead to 8-6. The teams traded points to a 13-11 Cougar advantage after another kill by Gray. Samantha Tinsley brought the Gaels to within a point with a kill, but another kill by Gray gave the Cougars a 14-12 lead and a match point. Kristina Graven’s kill made it 14-13, but Gray gave the Cougars the 15-13 victory with her fifth kill of the set and 21st of the match.
In the first set, the Cougars scored six straight to take a 19-8 lead. Gray’s two kills helped BYU finish off the set, 25-14.
The second set started with teams trading points to a 10-10 tie. The Gaels scored three straight to take a 16-11 lead, but the Cougars clawed back to tie the set at 20. The Gaels regained a 23-21 lead after a kill by the Gaels’ Danica Mendivil. Another Mendivil kill gave the set to Saint Mary’s, 25-23.
The third set saw both teams commit a handful of errors early with BYU holding a slim lead from the onset. A kill by Tinsley and a BYU error gave the Gaels their first lead of the set at 17-16. The teams then battled to a 23-23 tie. A kill by Gray finished off a long rally to give the Cougars a set point. A Shaw kill tied the game again for the Gaels, but a hitting error gave the Cougars another set point. The final point came on a block by Gray, winning the set for BYU at 26-24.
Saint Mary’s took a 10-6 lead in the fourth set behind multiple kills from Tinsley and Shaw. The Cougars cut the lead to 13-11, but two straight kills by Graven gave the Gaels a 15-11 lead. The Cougars got to within 22-20 and Haddock kept the Cougars close, but a BYU service error gave the Gaels a set point. Graven’s kill finished off the set for the Gaels, 25-21, and forced a decisive fifth.
Graven had 21 kills to lead the Gaels, and Shaw had 15 kills and 11 digs.
The Cougars return to action on Saturday, Sep. 28, when they host conference foe Pacific at 8 p.m in the Smith Fieldhouse.
Justin Green is the sports information director over men's track and cross country for BYU Athletic Communications. He is a BYU student majoring in public relations and minoring in business and will graduate in April 2013. Email: justinjgreen8@gmail.