The third time was not a charm for the 11th-ranked BYU women's volleyball team, as the Cougars ended their 1990 season with a four-game loss to 19th-ranked San Diego State in first-round play of the NCAA tournament.
In Friday night's match at the BYU Smith Fieldhouse, the Cougars suffered through some early match troubles - read: tentative, tight, timid play - as the Aztecs posted a 15-10, 15-8, 12-15, 15-13 triumph."I think the hard thing is convincing your own team that it's going to be a battle on the third try," said BYU Coach Elaine Michaelis, whose team had beaten SDSU twice earlier in the season. While the Aztecs had been the preseason favorites in the inaugural season of women's volleyball in the Western Athletic Conference, it was the Cougars who posted a 9-1 league mark - 24-6 regular-season record - en route to the WAC crown.
Meanwhile, SDSU Coach Rudy Suwara was listing attributes for his team that sounded more fitting for the Scout Law - patience, courage, inspiration, perseverance, et. al. "I think it's an upset," said Suwara. "We're fortunate that we played one of our best matches all year."
BYU jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead in the opening game behind the hitting of Tea Nieminen and Marinda Ashman. However, San Diego State followed Angela Martin's lead to quickly even the score and later take an 11-8 advantage. The Cougars drew to within 11-10, but SDSU's Kim Lester served the four consecutive points for the 15-10 first-game win.
In the second game, the Cougars posted some impressive kills for side-out advantages, but no fewer than eight times did BYU commit errors on first serves. The Aztecs never trailed - again, it was more Martin - in posting leads of 4-0, 8-3, 11-6 en route to the 15-8 second-game victory.
The Cougars had shaken their tentativeness by the third game, breaking a 7- 7 tie with seven points - Ashman and Carla Gee serving three points each. However, after leading 14-7, it took BYU a half-dozen tries at game point before earning the final 15-12 triumph.
The fourth game started off to be the back-and-forth battle typical of most BYU-SDSU matchups, with the Cougars turning a 10-8 deficit into a 13-10 lead as Laura Warnock came alive on the front row with a series of spectacular kills and blocks. However, after BYU's five-point swing, the Aztecs answered with their own five unanswered points for a 15-13 game win and match triumph.