Provo • Asked for an opening comment after his team was swept rather easily by No. 13 seed BYU 3-0 in an NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament first-round match, American University coach Barry Goldberg didn’t hesitate.
“They were better than us,” said the 28-year coach. “That’s my statement. They played well. Tough place to play, tough gym. They hit the ball well. I think they just controlled the match. All three of the games they were in control.”
The No. 7-ranked Cougars improved to 29-2 and will host Oregon on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in a second-round match after the No. 24-ranked Ducks swept Kennesaw State despite an early scare.
“We are always excited to go out and play volleyball,” said BYU senior Cosy Burnett about the prospects of meeting a powerful Pac-12 team. “It doesn’t matter who it is. But the fact that it is Oregon, sweet, let’s go.”
A win would propel BYU to its sixth straight Sweet 16, presumably at No. 4 seed Kentucky.
Friday, the scores were 25-11, 25-17 and 25-16 over an American team that won the Patriot League championship and had won 18 consecutive matches. But the final two sets weren’t that close. American won four match points in the second set and five match points in the third set to give BYU coach Heather Olmstead something to stew about after the match.
“Yeah, lack of focus,” Olmstead said. “We talked about that as a team. For a split-second, you lose your focus and a team is able to score a couple points. That’s normal. We try to avoid it, but the reality is volleyball is a game of momentum.”
Early on, American had it. The Eagles jumped out to a 6-3 lead and it appeared this one was going to be a tense, competitive battle. But the Cougars reeled off a 15-2 run and were never really threatened again.
“I knew it was going to be a dogfight [early],” said Olmstead. “I totally expected them to come out playing well.”
There were some long, heated rallies in the first set, but losing the lead took the energy away from the visitors, Goldberg got a yellow card for protesting one bad call in particular, and American’s hope for an upset was lost.
BYU 3, American University 0
No. 13 seed BYU starts slowly, but snaps the Patriot League champions’ 18-match win streak.
Ranked No. 7 nationally, the Cougars improve to 29-2 and advance to a second-round match against Oregon.
BYU’s Roni Jones-Perry has 13 kills and McKenna Miller adds 11 in the first-round sweep.
“It looked like it was going to be a pretty good match there for about five minutes, and then I lost my head with a referee on one call and our players tried to battle through it,” Goldberg said.
The Cougars ended up hitting .259 and holding American to .027. Roni Jones-Perry had 13 kills, McKenna Miller added 11 and Burnett had 10. Mary Lake had 20 digs.
“It was a real privilege to be able to play here and experience what we just experienced,” Goldberg said. “Hats off to what [BYU] has done with the program here.”
Oregon 3, Kennesaw St. 0<br>Oregon, which finished eighth in the Pac-12, trails by seven points in the first set against Kennesaw State before rolling in the second and third sets to win 28-26, 25-19, 25-18.<br>The Cougars are 9-2 all-time against Oregon, but the Ducks won the last meeting, 3-1, in an NCAA regional semifinal.<br>Taylor Agost leads Oregon with 11 kills and Lindsey VanderWeide and Jolie Rasmussen add seven kills apiece.