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BYU volleyball: No. 9 Cougars handle Toledo to win tournament title

By Royce Hinton

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Aug. 30 2014 7:03 p.m. MDT

Alexa Gray and Jennifer Hamson helped lead No. 9 BYU women’s volleyball to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-14) sweep of Toledo on Saturday afternoon.

The win secured the Cougars the Gold and Blue Player’s Challenge title after additionally sweeping West Virginia and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Hamson, Amy Boswell and Camry Godfrey Willardson were all named to the all-tournament team, while Hamson picked up Most Valuable Player honors.

“This weekend was a great starting point for us,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We have a lot ahead and can see some things we need to improve upon. Overall, we fought hard and stayed in the present for each match.”

Gray and Hamson each had a team-high nine kills against the Rockets. Willardson added team highs in assists (37) and digs (8). Boswell picked up five blocks in the victory, while Whitney Young and Willardson helped with four apiece.

BYU (3-0) jumped out to a 6-1 lead to begin the match after Toledo (0-3) gave up a trio of points on attack errors. After a 7-0 run, the Cougars found themselves ahead 15-4, forcing the Rockets to take a timeout. Later, Toledo went on a 5-2 rally to cut into BYU’s lead at 22-11. The deficit proved to be too large as Gray ended the set, 25-15, with a kill.

A block from Willardson and Boswell put the Cougars up by two at 5-3 to start the second set. Toledo then scored three-straight points to bring it within four at 14-10. The Rockets got within a point at 18-17 after a kill, but that was as close as they would get for the rest of the set as BYU walked away with a 25-20 set two victory.

A pair of kills from Toledo’s Saige Thomas helped her team to an early 2-1 advantage in the third set. Later in the set, Gray had consecutive kills to bring BYU back in control with a 10-4 lead. A kill from Young helped solidify the Cougar advantage, bringing the score to 14-5 and causing the Rockets to call timeout. Toledo couldn’t find an answer to BYU’s offense as it took a 25-14 win in set three.

The Cougars head back to the Smith Fieldhouse next for the BYU Invitational on Friday and Saturday. BYU plays host to No. 4 Washington, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Utah Valley. Links to live stats and video feeds for the tournament 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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