The BYU women's volleyball team, ranked No. 20, took home the Molten Classic Tournament title Saturday night after a thrilling five-set victory over Missouri (25-20, 19-25, 25-10, 22-25, 17-15) in the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.
Senior Bryn Porter earned MVP honors and true freshman Malia Marquardt was named to the all-tournament team for their efforts in helping the Cougars improve to 3-0 on the year.
"The theme of this weekend was maturity, and I'm very excited for this season based on what I saw," said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. "Missouri gave us an amazing effort, and I'm glad they played the way they did and we were able to respond. This match gives us great momentum for the rest of the year."
Porter led BYU with a career-high 19 kills on the night while also setting a personal best with 16 digs. Marquardt tallied the first double-double of her career with 12 kills and 10 dig while sophomore setter Kiana Rogers posted her second of the day with 45 assists and a career-high 21 digs. Senior middle blocker Rachel Dyer also notched double-digit kills with 11 while tying with junior outside hitter Kayla Walker for team-high blocking honors with eight rejections.
The Cougars started strong in set one, jumping out to an early 7-2 lead thanks to contributions from all over the court. Despite the BYU pressure, Tulane quickly fought back to even the score at 10-10. The two teams battled from there as both offenses proved potent. Walker finally pushed BYU through with a kill and a solo block to establish an 18-15 lead. The slim margin was enough in the end as the Cougars pulled out a 25-20 win. BYU held Missouri to a .098 hitting percentage in the set while Porter tallied five kills.
Set two began in the same fashion as the first set with an early 6-2 BYU lead that quickly became 12-8 in the Tigers' favor after a 10-2 run. Not to be outdone on her own floor, Porter sent a huge kill crosscourt to keep BYU in the set. Both teams traded scores through the halfway point of the frame until three straight Tiger kills gave them their largest lead at 17-11. Walker stopped the Missouri momentum with a shot down the middle to spark a 4-1 BYU run that cut the lead in half. However, another point-for-point tradeoff spelled doom for the Cougars as they could not overcome the deficit, falling 25-19.
Missouri came out firing in set three, scoring the first three points with a kill and two aces. Porter finally got BYU on the scoreboard with a kill down the line, but the Cougars still found themselves trailing 5-1. BYU stormed back with a 6-1 run to take its first lead of the set at 7-6 on a Tiger net violation and then kept the momentum going with back-to-back blocks and two straight aces from junior transfer Morgan Lloyd. The string of points continued for the home team as the run grew to 17-0 and the lead grew to 20-6 in a dominating performance. Scores came from all over the court as the BYU block, the serve of Lloyd and the Cougars' offensive firepower was too much for the Tigers. Missouri finally stopped the run on a BYU hitting error, but the Cougars rolled to the 25-10.
With their backs against the wall, the Tigers began set four with a 6-2 lead and held the Cougars at bay to a 17-13 advantage. BYU clawed its way back with three straight points and had a chance to knot the score, but three straight Missouri scores once again had the Tigers in control. BYU pushed back to get to within one point at 23-22, Missouri held off the Cougar advance to take the fourth set, 25-22.
Marquardt got BYU going in the fifth set, but the two teams battled back and forth to a 5-5 tie. Missouri became the first team to take a two-point lead with a 7-5 advantage, but Walker answered with a kill. A BYU service error gave the Tigers an 8-6 lead when the two teams traded sides.
Things looked bleak for BYU with Missouri leading 13-11 in the shortened fifth set but junior Ashton Hansen Hosford sparked a 3-0 Cougar that gave BYU match point at 14-13. However, the Tigers responded with two straight scores to earn their own match point. But the senior leadership of Porter came through as she put one away to stave off the Tigers and then helped BYU score the next two points to take set five, 17-15.
Earlier Saturday, the No. 20 BYU Cougars chalked up a four-set win (21-25, 26-24, 27-25, 25-21) against the Tulane Green Wave.
Playing smart for the Cougars was sophomore setter Kiana Rogers, who notched her sixth career double-double, and junior Ashton Hansen Hosford, who tied her career high of 13 blocks. Senior Bryn Porter also had a career high of six blocks, while the team notched 15.5 team blocks.
Pepperdine transfer Kayla Walker posted a .409 hitting percentage with 11 kills as Porter led the team in kills with 15 on a hitting percentage of .154. On the defensive side, Rogers led in digs with 14 while junior Morgan Lloyd added 11.
Tulane was led by senior Croatian native Sara Radosevic, who had 17 kills and a hitting percentage of .333; junior Rachel Lindelow led the defense with 11 digs.
After battling for the lead the entire first set, the Green Wave came out on top (25-21), led by Radosevic with six kills. Despite their loss, the Cougars had an impressive 4.5 team blocks while the Green Wave had none.
The second set proved to be Tulane's as they held the lead until 15-15 when the Cougars came back to win it, 26-24. On the set, Lloyd posted four digs while Hosford, Walker and Porter had three kills apiece.
In the third set the Cougars picked up momentum as they led until 23-23 when the Green Wave battled back; but the Cougars held them off with stellar performances by Porter and freshman Malia Marquardt with four kills each.
Set four was an evenly matched fight where BYU came out on top (25-21), sealing the win. Porter led in kills with five for the set, while Hosford led in blocks with four.
BYU will take its show on the road over the next three weeks beginning with the Texas A&M Invitational next weekend. The Cougars will face Siena on Friday at 4:30 p.m. before taking on American and the host Aggies on Saturday. All three matches can be heard on BYU Radio.
MISSOURI 3, UTAH STATE 1: At Provo, The Aggies showed signs of improvement, but the final outcome was another loss following a four-set loss (25-20, 19-25, 20-25, 24-26) to Missouri at the BYU Molten Classic. Senior outside hitter Melissa Osterloh (Sandy) led Utah State with 16 kills, while senior middle blocker Rebecca Anderson (Logan) added a career-high tying nine kills to go along with five block assists. Anderson finished the match by hitting .467 (9-2-15) to lead the team.
TULANE 3, UTAH STATE 0: At Provo, the Aggies fell 25-16, 25-17, 25-19 to Tulane later Saturday. USU drops to 0-3 on the season with the loss, while Tulane improves to 1-2 with the win. Osterloh led the Aggies with nine kills and 10 digs in the match.
SANTA CLARA 3, UTAH VALLEY 2: At Salt Lake City, the Wolverines (18-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-22, 0-15) to Santa Clara at the Ute Invitational Saturday afternoon. Redshirt freshman Jaicee Kuresa tallied 14 kills to lead all Wolverine attackers. She also recorded six block assists on the night. Sophomore Kayli Broadbent and freshman Chelsey Garfield also racked up nine kills apiece.
WEBER STATE 3, SAN JOSE STATE 2: At Tucson, Ariz., the Wildcats pulled out a 16-25, 25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 15-11 victory in the Arizona Wildcat Classic. The star of the day was senior Brittney Bisaillon who not only led the team with 15 kills and hit .556. She also recorded eight blocks to become the school's all-time leader in career total blocks with 493. She also leads the school in career block assists.