Behind a stout defensive effort, No. 15 BYU women's volleyball beat Pacific in a come-from-behind five-set (20-25, 18-25, 25-16, 25-14, 15-8) thriller Thursday night at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
"I'm very proud of the team's fight tonight," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "They hung in there through the ups and downs. Lacy came in off the bench and provided us with a spark that we needed. Whitney did a great job offensively and defensively. Everybody played a role and gave it their all."
Whitney Young Howard led the Cougars defensively with a season-high 12 blocks to go along with six kills on a .667 clip. Amy Boswell added a career-high 13 kills and Ciara Parker collected a team-leading 19 digs. Offensively, Alexa Gray contributed 14 kills and 12 digs for her third double-double of the season. Camry Godfrey Willardson paced the team with 29 assists, while Makenna Santiago added a career-high 10 digs. Additionally, Lacy Haddock contributed a career-high 12 digs and six kills on a .455 clip in the win.
As a team, the Cougars (14-2, 4-1 WCC) collected a season-high 19 blocks and 69 digs.
Pacific (12-5, 3-3 West Coast Conference) jumped out to a 2-0 lead to begin the decisive fifth set. BYU quickly responded with a 5-1 run to take a 5-3 lead, forcing the Tigers to use their first timeout. A Parker ace then extended the Cougars' advantage to five, 9-4, forcing another timeout. After another BYU point, Pacific responded with a trio of straight kills from Maycie Labass to bring her team within three, down 10-7. The Cougars scored the next three to go back on top 13-7 before taking the set and match, 15-8, on a Gray ace.
Pacific took a 4-2 edge to begin the first set after a trio of kills from Lexi Elman. Fueled off back-to-back BYU blocks, the Cougars then took a 6-4 lead. The two teams battled back and forth with the Tigers taking a slight advantage before a Pacific attack error tied things up at 14-all. Following back-to-back Gray kills, the Tigers took a timeout, down 17-15. Pacific then went on a 6-1 rally after the break, retaking the advantage at 21-18. BYU struggled offensively from there as the Tigers took the set, 25-20, from a Cougar attack error.
A Cosy Burnett kill started the second set, giving BYU the quick 1-0 lead. Pacific countered with a 6-1 rally to go up 6-2, forcing an early Cougar timeout. BYU regrouped out of the break, with a Howard kill helping to close the gap with the Tigers ahead, 9-6. The two sides traded points from there as a 5-2 Pacific rally helped extend its advantage to 16-12. BYU then had problems defensively as the Tigers went up 20-14 on a service ace before eventually taking the set, 25-18, on a kill.
The third set started out back and forth with a Burnett and Howard block giving the Cougars a 5-4 lead early on. Gray then registered her 10th kill of the match as BYU led 9-8. Another Burnett and Howard block capped off a 6-2 run to give the Cougars a three-point lead at 13-10. A kill from Gray then put BYU up 17-12, forcing a timeout from the Tigers. The Cougars continued to roll offensively, extending their advantage to 22-14 on a Willardson dump kill. BYU then took the set, 25-16, on a kill from Haddock.
Consecutive Howard blocks helped the Cougars take a 5-1 lead to start the fourth set, forcing an early Pacifc timeout. BYU continued on the offensive attack, going up 10-3 on back-to-back Tiger attack errors. A Boswell kill then extended the Cougars' lead to eight at 14-6. BYU took a double-digit lead at 18-8 following a block from Gray and Howard. Pacific then found some offense, scoring three-straight points on kills to cut the lead to eight, down 20-12. The slight momentum shift wasn't enough for the Tigers as BYU easily took the set, 25-14, on a Haddock kill, forcing the decisive fifth set.
The Cougars return to action Saturday, Oct. 10, when they travel to Moraga, California, to face Saint Mary's at 1 p.m. PDT. The match will be streamed live on TheW.tv. 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.