Stellar blocking helped lead No. 15 BYU women’s volleyball past rival San Diego in a sweep (25-23, 26-24, 25-20) Friday night at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
“We had a total team effort tonight,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “I love the way our team fought for this match. Our assistants did a great job to prepare them well, and the team executed the game plan.”
The win is the first time BYU (13-2, 3-1 West Coast Conference) has won at San Diego (9-6, 3-1 WCC) since joining the league. The victory also puts the Cougars at the top of the conference standings, now tied with the Toreros.
Whitney Young Howard led the Cougars with seven blocks to go along with seven kills. Amy Boswell contributed six blocks of her own while Cosy Burnett added five blocks and eight kills. Alohi Robins-Hardy paced the team with 33 assists and 10 digs for a double-double. Alexa Gray led the team in kills with 14 on a .294 clip while adding seven digs and three blocks. Additionally, Makenna Santiago had a career-high tying eight digs in the win.
BYU got its first two points of the first set from blocks by Gray, Boswell and Burnett. Back-to-back blocks from Howard then helped the Cougars overcome a two-point deficit from San Diego to take an 8-5 advantage. The teams traded points from there as a Torero attack error gave BYU a 15-11 lead. San Diego stayed in the set, however, scoring the next four-straight points to tie things up at 15-all. The Toreros retook the lead at 18-17 following a trio of kills before another block from Burnett and Boswell gave the Cougars a 21-20 advantage. BYU had set point on a Gray kill, and a San Diego attack error gave the Cougars the set, 25-23.
BYU jumped out to a 4-1 advantage in the second set with help from a pair of Burnett kills. The Toreros countered with a 4-0 offensive run to knot the score at 5-all. With the Cougars ahead 7-5, San Diego scored seven of the next eight points to go up 12-8, forcing a BYU timeout. The Toreros continued to cruise on offense until four-consecutive Cougar points brought BYU back within two, down 15-13. A Robins-Hardy and Boswell block eventually tied the set again at 17 apiece. Veronica Jones then knotted the set up again at 20-all with a kill before San Diego took the next two points on kills to take a 22-20 lead. A kill from Gray helped BYU as it scored the next three points to take a 23-22 edge. The set remained neck-to-neck as a bad set gave the Cougars set point. Another block from Burnett and Boswell then ended the set for BYU, 26-24.
Back-to-back kills from Burnett helped the Cougars jump out to a 3-1 advantage to begin the third set. The Toreros then scored the next three to take the 5-4 edge. The two teams stayed within two points of each other until a San Diego attack error put BYU up 14-11, forcing a Torero timeout. Following the break, the Cougars went on a 5-1 run to take their largest lead of the match at 19-12. Each team then took turns trading points until San Diego went on a 4-1 run to come back within four, down 23-19. BYU eventually took the set and match 25-20 on a Robins-Hardy kill.
The Cougars return to league action next week on Thursday, Oct. 8, as they travel to face off against Pacific at 8 p.m. PDT. The match will be broadcast live on ESPNU. Links to live stats and a video feed 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.