It’s nice. It’s good to see our work is showing. And when people play us, they give us their best. —Sophomore Whitney Young
PROVO — Long rallies are a thrill for volleyball spectators.
For the players on the court, they can provide extra momentum when they end in their favor or a bit of a blow when the other team wins the point.
BYU’s sweep of Pacific on Saturday afternoon featured some thrilling rallies, most of which ended in favor of the 14th ranked Cougars.
“Those long rallies give us an opportunity to battle, and that’s what we love,” said libero Ciara Parker after the Cougars defeated Pacific 25-21, 27-25, 26-24. “We love to compete, and we know those long rallies are us competing with that team.”
The first-place Cougars expected a battle from second-place Pacific.
“We knew Pacific was going to be tough, scrappy, and we knew they were a really good team,” said Parker, who finished with 13 digs and 25 service points. “When you win those, it’s like, ‘Yes!’ It does take a lot of energy out of you. But when we lose them, we just try to focus on the next play, the next touch because that’s all we have control over.”
While the Cougars controlled the momentum almost exclusively in the first set, Pacific battled back in both the second and third sets. After pushing the second set to extra points, Pacific came out in the third set and built a quick lead on the Cougars.
“They came out hot, and we just had to make some adjustments in order to stop what they were doing,” Parker said. “They were going to fight and battle because that’s what they do. They’re a really good team. It made us re-focus and let us know we had a battle on our hands.”
The Cougars were led by outside hitter Alexa Gray, who earned 18 kills, while Jennifer Hamson added 12 kills. Sophomore Whitney Young finished with a team-high seven blocks, while Amy Boswell added six blocks.
“That’s a great team,” said BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead. “Hats off to those guys for battling, even being down two sets, they just kept battling.” Olmstead commended his players for making adjustments and not getting discouraged. He said some lineup adjustments affected Hamson, but he doesn’t think that impacted her play.
“Jen is an athlete, she’s a competitor,” he said. “I don’t think (a lineup change) is going to rattle her. We’re doing it for reasons she knows, and I’ve talked to her about it. Next match, it may be different depending on the matchup and what we feel going into the match.”
The Cougars next match is their final home contest. They’ll host San Diego on Friday, Nov. 14, at Smith Fieldhouse.
Olmstead said the Cougars could take a lot of positives from Saturday’s win, and they also still have room to improve.
“We can build on our defense, both blocking and passing,” he said. “We can be a little bit better. They showed us very good defense. I liked how they played. I don’t mind looking at them and seeing what they did that we aren’t.”
He said the sweep definitely helps the nationally-ranked team’s confidence.
“We were down enough, more than, as a head coach, you ever like to be, but I know that it’s good to build off of that and just go from there,” he said.
Both players and coaches said the national ranking doesn’t put any more pressure on them, but instead, it feels like a reward for their hard work.
“I think it’s fun,” said sophomore Whitney Young. “It’s nice. It’s good to see our work is showing. And when people play us, they give us their best.”
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