By McCall Knowlton
The BYU women?s volleyball team suffered a heartbreaking and season ending loss to Pepperdine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 25-4 Cougars played at USC on Friday night against the 18-11 Waves and were favored to win the match but were not able to string together enough plays to pull through.
Pepperdine won in four games (30-24, 30-28, 24-30, 30-28) and went on to beat first round host and No. 12 USC in a three game sweep on Saturday. The Waves advance to the sweet 16 where they face Santa Clara this weekend.
?I”m incredibly proud of the season we had,? said BYU head coach Jason Watson. ?We made a significant amount of progress and have a great foundation on which to build next year. I”m just so proud of our team.?
BYU sophomore outside hitter, Erica Lott, led all players with a career-high 24 kills on .290 hitting. All-America candidate, Lindsy Hartsock, hit over .500 for the 16th time this year with putting down 13 kills and 10 blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Goodman recorded her 15th double-double of the year with 16 kills and 16 digs.
Cougar senior setter, Lauren Richards Evans, had 59 assists and became the fourth-best setter in BYU history with a total of 4,056 assists throughout her time at BYU.
?We worked hard,? Evans said. ?It”s not the way we wanted to end but we know we deserved to be here in the Tournament. It was a great year.?
The Cougars got off to a slow start in Game 1 and faced a 22-13 point Wave lead. BYU defensive players Annie Kemp and Lindsey Evans kept the Cougars in the game and got within six points of the Waved but could not finish out the run.
Game 2 followed the same pattern despite Hartsock?s attempts to keep the Cougars close to Pepperdine with her serving and combined blocking efforts with Rachel Dyer.
?We came out strong after the break,? Watson said. ?We were able to take care of the details we let get away from us in games one and two. Our serving especially allowed us to get on a roll.?
BYU did come out ready to play in Game 3 and built a 14-5 lead that extended to 11 points late in the match.
Pepperdine and the Cougars were ready for all out battle in Game 4 and both teams put everything out on the line. The Cougars had to fight a five-point deficit to tie things up with the Waves and then exchanged a series of points late in the game.
?I thought we put ourselves in a position to make a little run in games two and four,? Watson said. ?A couple of plays here and there would”ve been the difference in those games. We played better as the match went on, but it just didn”t work out the way we would”ve liked. We”re going to build on this experience and this season and get better for next year.?