No. 13 BYU women’s volleyball came back from being down two sets to one to defeat Rice in five sets (25-20, 23-25, 24-26, 25-18, 15-8) Saturday afternoon at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“It was a battle, and Rice is a really good team,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “I think the girls hung tough and competed with energy, so I am pretty happy. The second and third sets were close and we barely lost them, but we were in it and were competing. We just wanted to make a few adjustments defensively and get our blocks going a little bit better. Once our block got going in the fourth set, I think we rattled them a little bit. That was what propelled us through the fourth and fifth sets.”
Sophomore Lyndie Haddock recorded her first-ever double-double, logging 58 assists and 18 digs, and freshman McKenna Miller finished the afternoon with a match-high 25 kills. Senior Makenna Santiago contributed three aces, and Mary Lakecollected 27 digs to tie for ninth-most all-time in BYU rally-scoring era history.
The Cougars (2-0) took care of the fifth and final set with ease, trailing the Owls (0-2) only twice. BYU took a 10-6 lead over Rice after being down 6-5, and then steadily increased its lead over the Owls, finding match point after a service ace from Lake and a Rice service error.
The Cougars opened up the first set with a 3-1 lead and were able to maintain a comfortable cushion over Rice throughout the set. BYU’s set-high lead was eight, 22-14, but the Owls began to chip away at the advantage slowly by going on a 4-0 run, cutting the Cougar lead to only four. After a BYU timeout, Rice continued to press, but a monster kill by Miller got the crowd on its feet. And two Cougar points later, Haddock came up with another kill, which ended the set by a score of 25-20.
Rice opened up the scoring in the second set, taking a 2-0 lead over the Cougars before two Miller kills evened the match at two. Miller and Whitney Young Howard then teamed up for BYU’s first block of the match, but Rice kept at the Cougars and was able to secure a 7-4 lead. Another block by Boswell and Haddock tied the score at eight before Miller came up with another block to take the lead 9-8. Rice continued to battle, keeping the score close within one. The Cougars went ahead 18-14 after two kills from Veronica Jones-Perry, but Rice came back and tied the set up at 19. After a BYU timeout, a back-and-forth battle ensued between the two teams for the final points, and Rice came away with victory in the second set with a kill by Leah Mikesky.
The third set proved to be a close one, with neither team taking a lead of more than two until the Cougars found themselves with a 10-7 edge after Amy Boswell and Haddock combined for a block. That was followed by a Miller kill, to which Rice responded with a timeout. However, Rice came back from its four-point deficit to take a 16-15 lead after an attack error from Jones-Perry. Though the Cougars kept it close, they were unable to retake the lead from the Owls, despite tying the game at 21, and were defeated 26-24 in the third set.
The Cougar defense came up big for BYU in the fourth set, and they took a 9-2 lead early. Rice staged a comeback, however, and an 8-1 run for the Owls cut the lead to only two, 10-9. But BYU kept pressing and maintained an advantage over Rice. Six-straight serves from Boswell gave the Cougars a 22-15 lead before the lead was extended to eight after a Miller kill, and BYU was able to keep the Owls down before ending the set on a kill from Jones-Perry, 25-18.
The Cougars return to action Saturday at 7 p.m. MDT, when they face off against Cal Poly to conclude the BYU Invitational. The match will be broadcast 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.
Caitlan Wrubell is a student at BYU studying communications.
Contact her at: [email protected]