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BYU volleyball: balanced blocking leads Cougars to season-opening victory at West Virginia

By Royce Hinton

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Aug. 29 2014 9:11 p.m. MDT

Behind a balanced blocking effort, BYU women’s volleyball won its season opener, 3-0 (29-27, 25-20, 25-20), on Friday night against West Virginia in the Blue and Gold Player’s Challenge.

“The first match of the season is always a fun time,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We played well through the ups and downs you would expect in an opening match. This is just a start and we have a lot of room to improve.”

As a team, BYU had 18 total blocks. Jennifer Hamson led the Cougars with 10 kills while hitting at a .333 clip with nine digs and five blocks. Alexa Gray also contributed a team-high 10 kills. Sophomores Amy Boswell and Whitney Young led the team in blocks with nine and six, respectively. They both additionally contributed six kills. Junior Ciara Parker had a team-high 12 digs, while junior Camry Godfrey added 29 assists.

BYU (1-0) got its first point from a Hamson kill. The Cougars quickly jumped out to a 5-2 lead after a trio of blocks. West Virginia (0-1) battled back following a timeout to tie things up at 8 apiece. After the Mountaineers took a 13-10 advantage, BYU took a turn battling back to even the score at 14-14. The two teams traded points from there until the Cougars went ahead 19-17 on a Boswell kill down the middle. West Virginia then rallied to tie the score at points 24 through 27 before a block from Young and Hamson gave BYU a 29-27 set one victory.

Multiple Mountaineer attack errors helped the Cougars to an early 8-3 lead to begin the second set. The momentum began to shift back to West Virginia as a trio of consecutive points tied the score at 11-11. The Mountaineers took their first lead at 16-15 from an ace, prompting an Olmstead timeout. BYU quickly responded with a 6-0 run to retake the lead at 21-16. Two straight kills from Gray ended the second set as BYU won, 25-20.

The Cougars went up 9-2 to begin the third set. West Virginia then followed with a 5-1 run to cut the BYU advantage to three at 10-7. Another kill from Gray extended BYU’s lead to 15-10. A pair of Hamson kills then helped bring BYU’s lead to a set-high eight at 20-12. The Mountaineers followed by mounting a comeback, going on a 6-1 streak to cut the Cougars’ lead to three at 21-18. The rally proved to be too little too late as BYU took the set and match, 25-20, from a Hamson kill.

The Cougars continue competition in the Gold and Blue Player’s Challenge on Saturday when they face off against IUPUI and Toledo. Links to live stats for those matches can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.

Royce Hinton is the women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.

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