We did a good job blocking. We were just trying to slow her (Anae) down, get hands in her face. —BYU coach Heather Olmstead, on blocking Utah's Adora Anae
SALT LAKE CITY — There wasn’t a lot that went wrong for Brigham Young’s volleyball team Thursday night as the ninth-ranked Cougars swept Utah 3-0. BYU outhit, outblocked and outplayed a young Utah team before a record-setting Huntsman Center crowd of 3,056.
The Cougars had a strong offensive night, led by standout Alexa Gray’s 11 kills. Gray, a senior, was happy to note her streak of not losing to Utah held true with the victory and credited her coaches and teammates for the all-around effort. Amy Boswell added seven kills for BYU while Veronica Jones had six.
But as good as the Cougars' offense was, which included hitting 38 percent in the first set, it was their defense that proved to be the difference in the match. BYU recorded 14 blocks on the night to Utah’s four and held Utah to two of its lowest scoring totals of the season as it easily rolled to 25-16 and 25-18 wins in the first two sets.
BYU coach Heather Olmstead, a former Utah assistant, was pleased with her team’s effort at the net. BYU’s frontline was focused on disrupting Utah’s hitting attack and doing what it could with Adora Anae, who finished with a match-high 16 kills.
“We did a good job blocking,” said Olmstead. “We were just trying to slow her (Anae) down, get hands in her face.”
The defense also flustered Utah as the Utes had 31 attacking errors in the match.
Utah coach Beth Launiere didn’t make any excuses after the match, admitting her team has to get better to be competitive this season.
“The competitiveness we played with in set three is how we need to play,” said Launiere. “So many learning processes going on with my team and that was one of them, learning how to play like we did in that third set.”
After getting steamrolled in the first two sets, Utah came roaring back in the third set taking a 19-12 lead at one point. But BYU scored lucky number 13 on a Utah error. From there, the Cougars chipped away before taking the lead at 23-22 en route to a 25-22 win.
“I told our team in between sets two and three, Utah was going to play better,” said Olmstead. “We needed to be prepared for them to play better, Beth’s a great coach and she’s going to make adjustments and get her team playing better. That’s what happened, and we lost focus for a few plays. Volleyball ebbs and flows so luckily we were able to get a couple points back and just push there at the end.”
Utah’s Beth Launiere (497-308) remains three games shy of her 500th career victory. ... BYU has won five in a row over rival Utah.