No. 9 BYU women's volleyball fell to San Diego in a five-set (25-18, 22-25, 17-25, 25-20, 15-8) thriller Friday night at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
"San Diego was better than us tonight," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We competed at times but didn't string enough points together to come out with a win."
Alexa Gray led the Cougars tying her season-high 20 kills to go with a .444 hitting percentage. Ciara Parker had a team-high 14 digs for BYU, while Amy Boswell contributed a career-high 13 blocks to lead the team. Alohi Robins-Hardy added 34 assists, while Tambre Nobles nearly missed a triple-double after collecting a career-high 10 blocks to go with 11 digs and nine kills.
The fifth and final set began with the Cougars (16-3, 7-1 West Coast Conference) taking the first point from a San Diego (13-7, 6-2 WCC) attack error. The score was tied from points 1-4 until a service ace put the Toreros up by two at 6-4. BYU took its first timeout of the decisive set following a San Diego block that gave the Toreros a three-point advantage at 9-6. A 6-2 Torero run then followed as San Diego took the fifth set, 15-8.
The Cougars got off to a 3-1 advantage early in the first set with help from a Nobles kill. The Toreros quickly battled back, however, coming within a point at 6-5 after a kill by San Diego's Lauren Schad. BYU continued to cling to a narrow lead until the Toreros went on a 4-0 run to go ahead 12-10. Later, a pair of Gray kills helped bring the score back to an even 17 apiece. That spurred another 4-0 rally from San Diego to go back up, 21-17. It was all Toreros from there, as San Diego took the first set, 25-18, after an 8-1 run to end it.
Gray began the second set with a kill to give the Cougars the lead. BYU continued to stay ahead as a service ace by Robins-Hardy extended the advantage to three at 8-5. The Toreros were able to cut the lead to two at 12-10 following Jianna Bonomi's third service ace of the match. The score stayed close with San Diego taking its first lead of the set, 16-15, after a block. The two teams traded points back and forth from there with Boswell and Gray adding a block to tie the score at 21, forcing a Torero timeout. With a 7-2 run, the Cougars closed out the second set, 25-22, on a Gray kill.
A Jennifer Hamson kill gave BYU its first lead of the third set at 3-2. The Cougars' block played a big part in BYU then jumping out to an early 8-3 advantage. San Diego countered with three-straight points to bring the score back within two at 8-6. The Cougars continued to maintain their lead, though, going back up by five at 14-9 from a Whitney Young kill down the middle. Another block from Hamson and Boswell kept BYU ahead by five at 18-13 and caused the Toreros to call their first timeout of the set. After the break, the teams exchanged scores until the Cougars ended on a 7-1 run to take the third set, 25-17.
The fourth set opened evenly with BYU up 4-3 until San Diego scored four straight to take the advantage at 7-4 and force Olmstead to take a timeout. The Cougars battled back from there to bring them within a point at 12-11 from a Torero attack error. With several BYU errors, San Diego then took a five-point advantage at 17-12. Despite a late Cougar rally, the Toreros took the fourth set on a kill to send it to the decisive fifth and final set.
The Cougars return to the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday for a home match against No. 24 Loyola Marymount. 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.