Freshmen prove strong force during 2-1 Mizuna Classic weekend


    With the home court advantage, the BYU women’s volleyball team went 2-1 over the weekend at the Mizuno Classic, losing only to Oklahoma.

    Although this was the first time in two years the Cougars didn’t win the tournament, BYU improved their record to 4-2 with another home tournament lined up for this weekend.

    The Cougars defeated Memphis three games to none on Friday, then lost to Oklahoma 3-2 Saturday before finishing up the tournament with a 3-0 victory over Central Florida.

    Junior Kim Wilson and freshman Erica Lott, both outside hitters, earned All-Tournament honors for their outstanding performances. Lott tallied 41 kills for the three matches while Wilson posted 35 kills.

    “Erica and Kim did well,” BYU head coach Karen Lamb said. “They got lots of swings this tournament and did a fabulous job. I was really happy for them. It was team effort as usual, but Oklahoma had a lot to do with it. Had we won the Oklahoma match, we would have another person on the All-Tournament team, but they came to play.”

    The Cougars started the tournament strong, beating a young Memphis team in three games, 30-25, 30-20, 30-17. Again, Wilson and Lott led the team, both adding 13 kills apiece, while middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock posted 10 kills and six blocks.

    Setter Lauren Richards had 40 assists for the match and helped the Cougars hit an impressive .392 percentage against Memphis.

    “I was pleased with how we played, especially our offensive production,” Lamb said. “Erica [Lott] had a fabulous performance as a freshman, especially in games two and three.”

    Against a stronger Oklahoma team, BYU couldn’t cap the win after tying the match at two games a piece. After the Sooners claimed the first game, the Cougars answered back, winning the next two games with the help of Wilson and Lott, who combined for 39 kills. Despite its efforts, BYU struggled receiving Oklahoma’s powerful serves.

    “I thought they beat us in all phases of the game,” Lamb said. “They played better. I was disappointed in how we didn’t come together as a team. We lost the serve receive battle, and they did a nice job beating us at that.”

    Despite a small lead early in the fifth game against Oklahoma, the Cougars trailed despite kills by Wilson and Lindsey Metcalf and a key block by Hartsock. The Sooners maintained the lead for the rest of the game with the help of junior Gabriela Tonan and senior Keri Coats, who both picked up 20 kills apiece for the match.

    With the 26-30, 30-28, 30-27, 20-30, 10-15 loss, the Cougars were poised to regroup for their next match against Central Florida. After the Oklahoma match, Lamb knew they needed to finish strong.

    “We just need to move on to the next match and bounce back,” Lamb said. “I think we just got in a hole in that last game, so we just need to take care of business against Central Florida.”

    Crushing the Knights in three games proved to be a redeeming way to end the tournament for BYU, who won the quick contest 30-15, 30-12, 30-22. The Cougars had better success this match with their fundamentals and found strength in their offense, especially with their middle blockers.

    Hartsock, a 2004 preseason All-Mountain West Conference selection, posted a .579 hitting percentage against Central Florida while freshman Catherine Parker also made an impact on the front row with a .533 hitting percentage with a career-high 10 kills.

    “I think our passing and serving really picked up this last game against Central Florida, so that made a huge difference,” Lamb said. “We were able to run the middle and our middles hit over .500, which made it a lot nicer for us.”

    Richards, the Cougars’ only returning 2003 All-MWC selection, tallied 56 assists against Oklahoma, 40 assists in the Memphis match and 30 assists against Central Florida. As the starting setter, Richards has enjoyed playing at home.

    “It’s so good to play in front of our home crowd, especially in front of our family and friends,” she said. “It’s really been fun.”

    Throughout the Mizuno Classic, many newcomers besides Lott and Parker were added to the mix, including a number of freshmen. Lindsey Evans started all three matches in the libero position for the Cougars, while Annie Kemp also saw some time on the back row. Evans and Kemp combined for 11 digs against Memphis, while Evans posted a career-high 18 digs in the Oklahoma match.

    “We got everybody in [against Central Florida], which is good,” Lamb said. “Everyone got a little bit of experience and we played a lot of freshmen. Our team is very young for the most part, and I think there were a lot of good things that happened. It would have been nice to get all that experience without losing to Oklahoma, but we played well overall.”

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