No. 11 BYU women’s volleyball fell at No. 22 USC in three sets (25-23, 25-22, 25-22) Saturday night at the Galen Center to conclude the Women of Troy Baden Invitational.
“I liked the way our team battled tonight against a good USC team,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “We'll take the good from this and get better.”
Alexa Gray led the Cougars with 12 kills to go along with three blocks and three digs. Amy Boswell contributed a team-high eight blocks while Ciara Parker added 23 digs in the defensive effort. Camry Godfrey Willardson collected 28 assists and 10 digs for her first double-double of the season. Cosy Burnett added nine kills in the Cougar effort.
BYU (2-1) got off to a slow start early in the first set as a pair of USC (3-0) blocks helped the Trojans go up 4-2 early. The Cougars quickly followed with several blocks of their own to take a 7-5 advantage. A Whitney Young Howard kill to the back-left corner helped give BYU a four-point lead at 10-6, forcing a USC timeout. Back-to-back overpass kills for the Cougars then extended BYU’s advantage to seven, 15-8. The Trojans countered with a 4-0 rally to come back within three, 15-12, as Olmstead took her first timeout of the set. The teams traded points from there until a 9-1 USC run gave the Trojans a 23-20 lead. The Cougars fell just short as a USC block sealed set one for the Trojans, 25-23.
The second set started with several long rallies as each team traded points to a gridlocked 6-6 set. A 5-1 USC run ensued to put it up 12-7. A few Trojan miscues, including a Gray ace, then helped BYU come back within a point at 13-12. The Cougars continued to claw their way through the set, taking a 19-18 edge after a set from Boswell gave Gray another kill. A 4-1 USC rally followed as it took a 22-20 advantage. BYU couldn’t recover from there as a Trojan kill ended the set 25-22.
A Boswell kill kept the Cougars in the third set, as her team trailed early 6-4. A pair of USC errors kept the score close with BYU behind by just a point at 11-10. The Trojans followed with a 4-0 run to extend their lead at 15-10. A Boswell ace and kill helped the Cougars get back within two, 16-14, forcing a USC timeout. It was 17-all after an errant Trojan hit, but USC quickly scored the next four points to go back up 21-17. Back-to-back-to-back BYU blocks tied the set back up at 22 apiece, but the Trojans quickly put up the remaining three points to take the set and match 25-22.
Following the match, Gray and Howard were added to the all-tournament team.
The Cougars hit the road again next week, traveling to St. Louis to face off in the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic. BYU first plays against host Saint Louis on Friday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. CDT. Links to live stats can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.
Royce Hinton is the men's and women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.