Alexa Gray led No. 10 BYU women's volleyball to a three-set (25-17, 25-21, 25-20) victory against Pepperdine on Tuesday night at Firestone Fieldhouse.
"I was impressed with our team's focus through some rough patches tonight," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We have a long season ahead of us, so it's important to take a few things from each match."
Gray contributed 14 kills, five digs and three blocks to lead the Cougars. Camry Godfrey Willardson led the team in assists with 31 to go with 10 digs, while Ciara Parker had a team-high 23 digs. Whitney Young finished the evening with six blocks in the win. Jennifer Hamson also contributed double-figure kills on the evening with 12.
Young started things off in the first set for BYU with a kill. It didn't deter Pepperdine, as it quickly took a 5-2 advantage with help from a pair of blocks. The Cougars fought back to tie things up at 8-8 before a Young and Willardson block helped edge BYU ahead, 9-8. A Hannah Robison ace then helped fuel a 4-0 Cougar run to jump out to a 14-10 lead and force a timeout from the Waves. BYU extended its lead to near double-digits at 22-13 after multiple Pepperdine attack errors. A 3-0 rally from the Waves at BYU's set point proved to be too short as the Cougars ended the set, 25-17, on a Gray kill.
The second set opened with a narrow BYU lead at 5-3 following an Amy Boswell kill. The Cougars stayed ahead through the first part of the set until Pepperdine took a 9-8 lead from a kill by the Waves' Gaby Palmeri. BYU then retook the lead with Tambre Nobles' second kill of the match at 12-11. A 4-1 rally, capped off by a Hamson kill, extended the Cougars' advantage to five at 18-13, forcing another Pepperdine timeout. Following the break, a 3-1 run from the Waves brought their team back within two at 20-18. BYU continued to stay ahead through the rest of the set as a pair of Gray kills ended things for the Cougars, 25-21.
The Waves went ahead 3-1 to begin the third set before BYU came storming back to go up 4-3 with a Nobles kill. The two teams remained within a point of each other until a 6-0 Cougar run put BYU up, 13-9. After a lengthy rally, an additional Nobles kill gave the Cougars a 17-12 lead and forced the Waves to take a timeout. With BYU leading by as many as seven, Pepperdine scored four-straight points to bridge the gap to three at 19-16. The Cougars dominated through the rest of the set, though, as they took it and the match, 25-20, on another Gray kill.
The Cougars return home to the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday at 7 p.m. MDT, to face off against San Francisco. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the match in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. Links to live stats and a video feed 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.