Behind freshman McKenna Miller’s strong performance, BYU defeated Utah Valley in three sets (25-14, 25-14, 25-13) Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
In addition to winning the season opener, BYU (1-0) broke its attendance record with a crowd of 4,672 at the Cougars’ first match of the BYU Invitational.
“What a great environment with everyone that came out tonight,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “I was just happy for the girls to get that kind of support. We asked them to compete and have energy and they did both of those things.”
The Cougar offense dominated the opposition, hitting at a .361 clip compared to the Wolverine’s (0-1) .012 hitting percentage.
Miller lead BYU with 13 kills, while senior Amy Boswell and sophomore Veronica Jones-Perry each added eight kills. Senior Whitney Young Howard added seven kills and four blocks, while BYU combined as a team for a total of 34 digs. Lyndie Haddock tallied 30 assists and Mary Lake had 12 digs in their first career starts.
In the first set, the Wolverines opened with a quick 3-1 lead. Miller recorded the first two kills of her BYU career to help the Cougars tie the score 4-4. After the teams traded points, including a 5-0 run by the Cougars capped off with an ace from Lake, the score jumped to 10-6 in favor of BYU. The Cougars remained in control thanks to dominant play at the net by Boswell. A 3-0 BYU run pushed the score to 17-10 and forced Utah Valley to burn a timeout. Kills by Howard and Miller helped maintain the Cougars’ momentum with a 7-1 run to bring the score to 24-13. Boswell added another kill, and BYU won the first set 25-14.
The Cougars established a 4-2 lead to begin the second set. Utah Valley answered with a 4-0 run to take the lead, but a kill by Miller started a 3-0 BYU rally to restore the Cougars’ advantage. With the score tied at seven, Howard smashed a kill through the Wolverine defense to start a 3-0 run to help BYU out to a 12-9 advantage. Following the first Utah Valley timeout of the set, the Cougars extended their lead to 17-12 after an ace by Haddock. Another kill from Miller gave BYU a 19-12 advantage and forced the Wolverines to burn their second timeout. Howard’s strong play at the net helped the Cougars close out the set with a 6-1 run, and BYU took the second set 25-15.
Looking to complete the sweep, BYU got off to a hot start in the third set with a 3-0 start. Utah Valley stayed close before another 4-0 Cougar run gave BYU a 10-5 lead. Two-straight blocks from the Cougar front line extended the lead to seven, 15-8. With the Cougars ahead 20-10, Miller added her 13th and final kill of the match. The teams traded points before an errant Wolverine serve sailed long and the Cougars held on to win, 25-13.
BYU continues play in the BYU Invitational with two Saturday matches at the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars take on Rice at 12:30 p.m. MDT, before their final match against Cal Poly at 7 p.m. Both matches will be aired live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143. Links to live stats and video/audio feeds can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.