Nick Wagner, Deseret News
BYU head coach Heather Olmstead cheers on her team during an NCAA volleyball playoff game against UNLV in Provo on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. BYU swept UNLV 3-0 to advance onto the Sweet 16.

AUSTIN, Texas — The BYU women's volleyball team's valiant comeback effort came up heartbreakingly short Friday when it lost to No. 4-seeded Texas in five sets (25-23, 25-14, 24-26, 22-25, 14-16) during the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament. The loss bounced the No.-13-seeded Cougars from the tournament while ending another largely successful season.

Down two sets to none, things looked dire for the Cougars after being blown out of the second set 25-14. But instead of folding, the team rallied to take the match to the brink, narrowly losing the fifth and deciding set 16-14.

The way the fifth set went down may sting for a while.

Playing off the momentum of winning two straight sets, the Cougars stormed out to score the first five points of the tiebreaker, with Texas looking flustered and ready to fall. The two teams traded points from that point, with BYU increasing its lead to 11-5 and seemingly poised to win and advance.

But the Longhorns weren't done.

A 7-1 run by Texas suddenly tied things up at 12-12, forcing BYU into a timeout. The Cougars proceeded to score the next two points, off of consecutive kills by seniors Whitney Howard and Amy Boswell, setting up two match points for BYU leading 14-12.

But from there the Longhorns managed four straight points to come away with a 16-14 final-set win, Texas now moves on to the round of eight while BYU incurs a tough end to an otherwise successful season.

"Congratulations to the University of Texas on advancing in the tournament," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "They played a great match. I don't think that I could be any more proud of the way the team played. I thought, except for a lapse in the second set, it was phenomenal volleyball. I'm very proud of the team and the courage and fight that they showed in the match tonight."

The Cougars were led by McKenna Miller's 16 kills, with Howard and Boswell adding 15 and 14 kills, respectively. Playing big, yet again for the Cougars, were freshman libero Mary Lake, who scored 30 digs and had two big aces late in the match.

The Cougars started off the match strong, managing a 23-21 lead in the first set before yielding the final four points to Texas to narrowly go down 1-0. The second set didn't go well as the Longhorns opened up a huge lead early and then cruised to an easy 25-14 set win.

BYU made good adjustments in the third set and stayed mentally tough, coming back to ultimately take it 26-24.

In the fourth set, the Cougars led again by the same 23-21 margin as in the first set, but this time finished things off, taking the set 25-22 when Boswell ended things with a well-placed kill, setting up what proved to be a heartbreaking fifth set.

Despite the loss, the Cougars enjoyed another relatively successful season which included their fifth straight advancement to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament and a third-straight West Coast Conference championship.


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney