The No. 11 BYU women’s volleyball team defeated Saint Mary’s in straight sets (25-15, 25-11, 25-13) Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.
“We came out really focused tonight, especially from the service line,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “Whitney (Bower) did a great job spreading the offense and getting lots of different people involved.”
The Cougars started fast in each set, getting out to a 4-1 lead in the first, 3-0 in the second and 4-0 in the third.
BYU also had strong finishes in the first two sets, closing the first with a 10-1 run and ending the second on an 11-5 run.
Senior McKenna Miller posted a team-high 13 kills, hitting .619 with no errors and adding two blocks for BYU (19-3, 10-1 WCC).
Sophomore Heather Gneiting totaled nine kills on a season-high .727 hitting percentage along with five blocks and two digs.
Junior Taylen Ballard-Nixon had five kills and tied a career high with three aces and three blocks, while freshman Bower recorded 24 assists, five digs and three kills on the night.
As a team, BYU posted a .377 hitting percentage while holding the Gaels to minus-.068.
The Cougars remain at home as they take on Pacific on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Washington State 4, Utah 1 • In Pullman, Wash., Ireland Dunn treated herself to a team-leading third goal of the season but Washington State turned back the Utes.
“There were a few details that made the difference tonight,” coach RIch Manning said. “We made things difficult when we allowed an early goal. After that moment, I was proud of our fight and energy. Ireland scored a fantastic goal that brought us back into the game in the second half. It was disappointing to concede so quickly after that, but we will learn from this and take those lessons into Sunday’s game.”
The Cougars jumped on the Utes early as Morgan Weaver scored in the sixth minute for a 1-0 lead. The Cougars doubled their advantage about 10 minutes before the half as Grayson Lynch scored off a pass from Makamae Gomera-Stevens.
Utah needed a spark to get back in the contest and Dunn provided it just after the hour mark. The senior took the ball in her own half and dribbled through a maze of Cougar defenders before her initial try was blocked. She was able to gather herself, collect the rebound and coolly score to provide a lifeline to the Utes.
The home side struck back almost immediately as Weaver played a ball ahead to Elyse Bennett and a fortunate bounce allowed her a free run for a third WSU goal. Four minutes later, Weaver bagged her brace, dribbling around a few defenders before firing low to Carly Nelson’s right side.
Utah remains in the Pacific Northwest for a contest on Sunday at 1 p.m. MT against No. 21 Washington.