Alexa Gray led No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball in a come-from-behind five-set (21-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-10) win Saturday afternoon at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
“First off, hats off to Gonzaga,” BYU women’s volleyball head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “They gave us all we could handle. Second, I can't say enough about the BYU fans that showed up. Thank you Cougar Nation. Our girls dug deep for that one and hopefully came out with a resolve to continue improving and competing.”
Gray led the Cougars with 16 kills while adding four digs and four blocks. Ciara Parker contributed a team-high 15 digs while Camry Godfrey Willardson added 39 assists. Whitney Young led the team in blocks with 10, and Amy Boswell tied a career-high in kills with 11. Additionally, Tambre Nobles added a season-high 14 kills to go with six digs.
BYU (24-4, 15-2 West Coast Conference) got the first point of the fifth and final set against Gonzaga (16-12, 7-10 WCC) from a Boswell kill. The score was tied at every point from 1-10 until a Young kill gave the Cougars a 12-10 advantage, forcing the Bulldogs to take a timeout. Consecutive kills from Nobles brought the set to match point and an attack error gave BYU the five-set victory.
The Cougars got things started off against the Bulldogs in the first set with a kill from Jennifer Hamson. The two teams traded points from there until a trio of straight points gave the Cougars a 9-6 edge. The Bulldogs stayed in the match, however, tying the score at 13 apiece following a kill from Gonzaga’s Savannah Blinn. With BYU ahead 17-15, the Bulldogs used a 6-1 run to take a 21-18 lead, forcing Olmstead to take a timeout. The Cougars couldn’t find a rhythm at the end of the set as Gonzaga took set one, 25-21.
The Bulldogs started the second set on a 6-2 run after multiple kills. BYU took its first timeout of the set after a kill and block put Gonzaga back up by four at 9-5. That was followed with another 6-2 Bulldog rally that brought the score to 15-7, Zags. Despite a 5-2 Cougar run, it was all Gonzaga from there as the Bulldogs easily took the second set, 25-17.
The third set started neck-to-neck until a Boswell and Willardson block put the Cougars up 7-5. A 7-2 rally from Gonzaga then put the Bulldogs on top 12-9. A Gonzaga attack error brought BYU back in the game, tying the score at 13-13. A Boswell kill then capped off a 6-1 run to give the Cougars an 18-14 edge. After trading points, a down-the-line kill from Gray kept BYU ahead by four at 21-17 and forced Gonzaga to take a timeout. The Cougars cruised from there, taking the set, 25-18, from a Boswell service ace.
Multiple kills gave the Bulldogs a 6-2 advantage to begin the fourth set. A Gray kill quickly capped off a 6-1 BYU run that put BYU back in the lead, 11-10. Three kills and a block from Gray then helped to extend the Cougars’ lead to three at 15-12. BYU had at least a three-point lead until a trio of Gonzaga points brought them within two at 19-17. After a timeout the two sides traded points until the Cougars took the set, 25-21, from another Young and Willardson block, forcing the decisive fifth set.
The Cougars stay on the road next Tuesday when they face off in the regular-season finale against Loyola Marymount at 7 p.m. PST. 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.