No. 12 BYU women's volleyball fell short in a five-set (25-23, 19-25, 25-16, 15-12) heartbreaker to Loyola Marymount on Saturday afternoon at Gersten Pavilion.
"That was a good volleyball match and both teams really wanted it," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "I loved our fight in the fourth set and thought we played pretty well for most of the match. We'll get back in the gym and work hard to get better."
Alexa Gray led the Cougars with a career-high tying 27 kills, eight digs and five blocks. Her 27 kills are tied for fifth-most all-time in the BYU rally-scoring era, while her 67 attempts are good for third-most all-time. Ciara Parker contributed a season-high 27 digs (good for seventh most in the rally-scoring era), while Camry Godfrey Willardson added 33 assists and a career-high tying six kills. Amy Boswell collected a team-high eight blocks, and Lacy Haddock added a career-high 14 digs. Alohi Robins-Hardy added double-digit assists with 15.
Gray scored the first two points for BYU (18-3, 8-2 West Coast Conference) on kills to begin the decisive fifth set. Loyola Marymount (15-7, 6-4 WCC) kept the score close, taking a 6-5 lead on a Cougar error. The score remained neck-to-neck down the stretch until an ace gave the Lions a two-point advantage at 10-8. BYU couldn’t find an offensive rhythm in the end as Loyola Marymount closed out the set and match 15-12.
A trio of dump kills from Willardson helped BYU and Loyola Marymount stay neck-to-neck at 4-4 to begin the first set. Back-to-back Gray kills gave the Cougars a 9-7 edge. The score remained close until the Lions went on a 6-1 run to take a 16-13 lead, forcing a BYU timeout. Loyola Marymount retained its advantage heading down the stretch, taking a 20-16 lead on a Cougar attack error. BYU came back within a point at 21-20 and 24-23, but it wasn’t enough as the Lions closed out the set 25-23 on a Cougar service error.
BYU jumped out to a 7-0 lead, capped off by a Gray kill, to start the second set. Loyola Marymount began to close the gap with a 4-0 run to come back with three, down 10-7. The scoring went back-and-forth from there as another Gray kill gave the Cougars a 16-11 advantage, forcing a Lion timeout. A block from Haddock and Whitney Young Howard extended BYU’s lead to six at 19-13. The two sides traded points until Willardson ended the set 25-19 with another kill.
Boswell started the third set for the Cougars with a pair of kills to put BYU up 2-1 early. Loyola Marymount scored the next three points, which was quickly followed by a 4-0 Cougar rally, making it 6-4. Fueled by a 7-2 run, the Lions took a three-point edge at 12-9 as Olmstead took a timeout. Consecutive kills from Gray brought BYU back within two points, 16-14, and forced a Loyola Marymount timeout. The Lions ended the set on an 8-1 rally to run away with the set 25-16.
Following a Gray kill, Loyola Marymount scored seven of the next eight points to take an 11-4 lead in the fourth set. The Cougars then went on a 5-1 run, helped by a Gray kill and solo block, to come back within three, down 12-9. After another 7-0 BYU run, the Cougars retook the lead at 16-13. A trio of straight blocks from Boswell put BYU up by six at 22-16 before the Lions came back to tie the set at 23-all following a 7-1 run. Another kill from Gray and an attack error helped the Cougars close out the set 25-23, sending the match to the decisive fifth set.
The Cougars look to rebound when they return home to the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, Oct. 30, at 5 p.m. MDT, facing off against rival San Diego. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio. 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.