Alexa Gray led No. 12 BYU women's volleyball with a career-best 31 kills, making her the rally-scoring era kill leader at BYU, to defeat Santa Clara in four sets (25-19, 25-21, 23-25, 25-14) Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“It was a good volleyball match,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. ”I thought we executed a little bit better and I’m really proud of the team. Obviously Alexa carried us through that match, and I couldn’t be any more proud of her effort. It was a great team win.”
Gray led all players with 31 kills in addition to nine digs while hitting at a .464 clip. Camry Godfrey Willardson had 40 assists and seven digs while hitting at a .500 clip, and Amy Boswell added five blocks and nine kills. Whitney Young Howard had seven kills while also hitting at a .500 clip. Libero Ciara Parker contributed a team-high 19 digs in the win.
BYU (24-3, 14-2 West Coast Conference) had 60 assists as a team while hitting at a .323 clip. The win gives the Cougars a 7-4 series advantage over the Broncos (21-7, 12-4 WCC).
In the first set BYU jumped out to a 5-1 start that began with a kill from Burnett. The teams traded points before the Cougars went on a 6-0 run that included a block by Howard, making the score 13-5. Santa Clara responded with a run of its own, scoring four-straight points to make the score 13-9. The Cougars regained momentum when Cosy Burnett and Howard teamed up for back-to-back blocks that started a 4-2 run, giving BYU a 17-11 advantage. The Broncos were able to pull within one of the Cougars before a kill by Gray made the score 18-16. At 20-17, Veronica Jones had two kills and Boswell had an ace to extend BYU’s lead to six before Howard added a kill to win the set 25-19.
The second set opened with the teams even at a 2-2 tie before Santa Clara made a 7-3 run to gain a 9-5 edge over the Cougars, despite two kills from Burnett. The Broncos extended the lead to seven, with the score at 14-7, before Gray smashed a kill, helping BYU fight back to 14-10. Down 17-11, the Cougars rallied with a 7-2 run that began with another kill from Gray before a service error by the Broncos made the score 19-18 in favor of Santa Clara. After more back-and-forth scoring, Gray had a pair of kills to break BYU’s rally-scoring era record, giving the Cougars a 22-21 lead. Gray then served for the final two points and BYU won the set, 25-22.
In the third set, Gray continued her record-setting offensive performance with three more kills for the Cougars in the first three points of the set, keeping the score tied 3-3. Burnett then had a kill that helped BYU out to a 9-6 lead. Gray added another kill before the Broncos tied the score at 11-all. The teams went back and forth holding the lead until Santa Clara built a two-point advantage, forcing the Cougars to take a timeout with the Broncos ahead 15-13. A Boswell block gave BYU the serve trailing 22-21 before Willardson had a dump kill to tie up the score at 22. An attack error by Santa Clara gave the Cougars the lead again at 23-22, but the Broncos fought back to win the set, 25-23.
In the fourth set, Santa Clara jumped out to a 3-1 lead before BYU tied the score at three on a kill from Burnett. The score stayed close before Gray had a kill to give the Cougars their first lead of the set, making it 7-6. BYU then went on a 6-2 run with kills from Gray, Willardson and Howard to take a 12-8 lead. Another dump kill by Willardson helped the Cougars to a 15-9 advantage that forced the Broncos to take a timeout. BYU followed with a 4-1 run, helped by a block from Parady and a kill by Gray, to take a 19-10 advantage. A kill by Howard, then a kill by Burnett took the Cougars to a 22-14 lead. Gray then broke her own career kills record with her 31st kill of the night to win the match, 25-14, for BYU.
The Cougars host San Francisco on Saturday at 12 p.m. MST. The match is free admission to the public. Links to live stats can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.