The No.10 BYU women’s volleyball team lost its first match of the season in a five-set thriller (25-18, 22-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-10) against No. 5 Washington at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday night.
“We’ve got to be better,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We’re back at it at noon tomorrow, so we’ve got to just be ready to go. We’ll get better from here. We’ve got a lot of information and we’ll be able to get better.”
Senior Jennifer Hamson led the Cougars with 21 kills, 11 digs and two blocks. Sophomore Amy Boswell led the blocking effort with 10 blocks. Junior Camry Godfrey Willardson had 45 assists along with 15 digs and five blocks. With 17 digs, Ciara Parker led the defense in the back row.
In the fifth set, Washington took control from the start. Krista Vansant, who had a match-high 25 kills, got the Huskies’ first point off a kill. Washington did not let up as it pushed to an early 5-1 lead after an ace from Melanie Wade. The Cougars got within one of the Huskies at 6-5 after an overpass kill from Hannah Robison, who had 10 kills in the match. But that was as close as BYU got. The Huskies, and a constant barrage of kills from Vansant, proved to be too much for the Cougars. A kill down the line from Kaleigh Nelson won the final set and match, 15-10.
BYU came out strong in the first set, taking the lead early. BYU had a 4-0 run to push the lead to 9-5 with kills from Hamson, Boswell and Robison that forced Washington to take its first timeout. After trading points, an ace from the Huskie setter Katy Beals began a huge run that the Cougars couldn't overcome. It included two aces and multiple BYU overpasses that led to Washington kills. BYU had no answer for the Huskies, who scored 11 unanswered points to lead 24-18. A kill from Vansant ended the first set with Washington winning 25-18.
The second set carried over the Huskies momentum as a huge stuff block gave them the early lead. BYU fought back to take the lead 4-3 after a Hamson kill. Paker’s serves gave BYU four unanswered points to push the lead to 11-7 and forced Washington to call a timeout. The Huskies came out of the timeout charging with a kill from Lianna Sybeldon. A well-placed tip from junior Alexa Gray got BYU the side out, but the teams continued to trade points. Finally, two kills from Hamson got BYU to set point. The Cougars defeated the Huskies in the second set, 25-22, after sophomore Whitney Young won a battle at the net.
Just like the second set, Washington opened the third with a block to take the early lead. Despite getting within one multiple times, the Cougars could not take the lead. The Huskies could not stop Boswell’s slide attack, which led to three side outs for BYU throughout the set, keeping the Cougars within striking distance. BYU went on a 4-0 run with a kill from Hamson and big blocks from Boswell to tie the game at 15-all. Washington answered all of BYU’s attacks, however. An overpass from Gray led to a kill from Vansant to give the Huskies the 23-19 lead. Washington won the third set, 25-21, after a well-placed tip from Wade.
The fourth set began with Willardson tipping the ball for BYU’s first point. Hamson hit the ball down the line after an assist from Boswell to take the lead, 3-2, early on. The two teams then traded points with neither team able to put a run together. After a kill from Robison tied the game at 13, Boswell and Hamson teamed up for a stuff block to give the Cougars a 14-13 lead. BYU put together a 6-0 run with kills from Young and Hamson and an ace from Willardson to push its lead. Senior Tambre Nobles powered through the block for a kill and the 24-19 lead, bringing the Cougars to set point. A kill tipped off the block from Hamson and won the set, 25-21, and forced the fifth and decisive set.
The BYU Invitational continues on Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars play UMBC at 12:00 p.m. MDT, and conclude the tournament against Utah Valley University at 7:00.