Alexa Gray led No. 10 BYU women's volleyball over Saint Mary's in a 3-1 (25-12, 23-25, 27-25, 25-14) victory at McKeon Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
"Hats off to Saint Mary's for competing hard," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Our girls gave their all and played tough in some intense moments. Alexa was in rhythm and did some impressive things. We can continue to get better and we'll do just that."
Gray tied her season high with 20 kills for the Cougars to go with a .404 hitting percentage. Camry Godfrey Willardson led the team in assists with 26, while sub Alohi Robins-Hardy added 15 assists. Whitney Young contributed a team-high six blocks, and Ciara Parker added a team-high 13 digs in the win. Jennifer Hamson contributed double-digit kills with 15 to go along with eight digs and three blocks.
Young started the first set for the Cougars (16-2, 7-0 West Coast Conference) with a kill. That was followed by a pair of Hamson service aces that helped put BYU up 7-3 early on. The Gaels (4-12, 0-6 WCC) stayed in the set, down just three at 11-8, before the Cougars went on a 6-1 run to go ahead 17-9. Saint Mary's struggled to find its rhythm as BYU easily took the first set, 25-12, from a Gray kill.
The Gaels jumped out of the gate in the second set with two quick points to take the early advantage. Saint Mary's stayed ahead by two following a pair of kills by Gael Samantha Tinsley, but the Cougars battled back to retake the lead at 10-8 from consecutive Gray kills. BYU maintained its momentum, jumping ahead to 18-12 after a Hamson and Amy Boswell block. A 7-1 run for the Gaels followed to give them a 20-19 advantage late in the second set. Saint Mary's remained ahead the rest of the way and took the set, 25-23.
The Cougars went ahead 6-1 in the third set after multiple Gael attack errors. Saint Mary's countered with a string of points of its own to lock things up at 12-12. The two teams traded points from there with the Gaels holding a slight advantage until a Boswell kill put BYU back up, 19-18. With the score tied at 23 Gray had another big kill to bring up set point. After a few extra points, a Saint Mary's attack error closed out the third set, 27-25, for the Cougars.
Due in part to tough serving by Tambre Nobles, BYU went up 3-0 to begin the fourth set. Multiple blocks from the Cougars helped to extend their lead early on to eight at 11-3. A kill from Nobles then gave BYU a double-digit advantage at 15-5, forcing a Gael timeout. The teams exchanged points following the break, but the Cougars' offense proved too powerful as a pair of Hamson kills ended the set and match for BYU, 25-14.
The Cougars stay on the road next Friday as they face off against league foe San Diego at 7 p.m. PDT. Links to live stats and a streaming 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.