Top-ranked BYU volleyball opens conference play with sweep of Pacific
BYU's Kennedy Eschenberg celebrates a point against Pacific in Provo on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. BYU won 3-0.

Kennedy Eschenberg and No. 1 BYU women’s volleyball swept Saint Mary’s (25-10, 25-14, 25-13) in the Cougars’ second West Coast Conference match of the season at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.

"I'm proud of our effort offensively and defensively today," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "It was a well-rounded match by our team."

Eschenberg recorded a career high in blocks, providing the team with 11. Roni Jones-Perry led BYU with 12 kills on a career-high .786 hitting percentage. Heather Gneiting, Madelyn Robinson and McKenna Miller led next with six kills apiece, while Lyndie Haddock-Eppich provided 24 assists and Kiani Moea’i contributed two aces.

As a team, the Cougars (12-0, 2-0 WCC) hit a .531 hitting percentage for the highest team clip for the season and second-highest clip in BYU rally-scoring era history.

BYU took an early 4-0 lead in the first set off a kill by Jones-Perry,as well as two blocks by Haddock-Eppich and Eschenberg. After Saint Mary’s (9-3, 1-1 WCC) scored its first point of the match, the Cougars came back with a kill by Robinson to put the score at 6-1. Kills by Eschenberg and Gneiting, as well as a block by Robinson and Gneiting, put BYU up at 13-3 and forced the Gaels to take the first timeout of the set. Two kills by Jones-Perry gave the Cougars a 3-0 run, putting them up at 19-7. BYU took set point off a kill by Miller and finished the set, 25-10, off a block by Gneiting and Robinson.

Two back-to-back dump kills by Haddock-Eppich gave BYU an early lead at 4-1 in the second set. A kill by Jones-Perry, a block by Jones-Perry and Eschenberg and another block by Haddock-Eppich and Eschenberg added to the Cougars’ 6-0 run, putting the score at 7-1. Kills by Gneiting and Jones-Perry added to BYU’s 14-5 lead. The Cougars then went on a 4-0 run to put more points on the board at 17-6 with kills by Gneiting and Jones-Perry, forcing Saint Mary’s to take its second timeout of the set. After a 4-0 run by the Gaels, BYU took the set off a Robinson kill at 25-14.

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The Cougars took a quick 3-0 advantage with a kill by Jones-Perry in the third set. BYU went on another run soon after, including kills by Robinson and Jones-Perry and a block by Gneiting, to put the score at 10-4. At 15-8, Moea’i took her second ace of the match as a Saint Mary’s player shanked the ball into the stands. The Cougars then went on an 8-1 run, including two kills by Eschenberg and blocks by Jones-Perry, Eschenberg and Haddock-Eppich, to put them at a 12-point advantage, 21-9. BYU concluded the set and match with a kill by Miller, 25-13.

The Cougars take to the road for their next WCC matchup against Pepperdine on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. PDT. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.