By John Gale
BYU”s No. 19 women”s volleyball team improved its record to 10-1 after surviving a five-game match with Colorado State on Saturday, Sept. 16 and sweeping Air Force on Friday, Sept. 15, 2006, to begin Mountain West Conference play.
“It wasn”t pretty at times,” said BYU head coach Jason Watson. “It wasn”t, I think, representative of what we”ve been able to do in the past. But we found a way to pull it out and that was a great test for our team.”
The Cougars had a 26-22 lead in the first game before the Rams finished on an 8-2 run, taking the last five points to win the game 30-28.
BYU bounced back in the second game, getting out to a 27-19 lead. Colorado State responded with a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to one when middle blocker Rachel Dyer hit a powerful kill down the middle of the court to end the game at 30-28.
In the third game, the Cougars jumped out to a large lead, and the Rams once again went on a run to get the score close before BYU held on for the 30-27 win.
Colorado State took a 22-17 lead in the fourth game and maintained the lead through the end of the game, taking it 30-23 to force BYU to play a decisive fifth game for the first time this season.
After the Rams cut BYU”s lead to 6-4, the Cougars maintained a one or two-point lead until the score was 12-11. Rightside hitter Erica Lott then put the game and match away with three consecutive kills to secure BYU”s first win over Colorado State in Provo since 2000.
Lott had a career-high 26 kills to go with eight digs and six blocks to lead the Cougars. Rightside hitter Tonya Mokelki led the Rams with 21 kills, six digs and two aces.
“I am surprised because I did not feel I was doing well so I thought, ”OK, at least I can pass well and block well,”” Lott said. She credited setter Jenna Judkins, who had 61 assists, for putting her in good positions to score.
The Cougars defeated Air Force much more easily the night before, sweeping them in three games 30-18, 30-12 and 30-17. It was their eighth sweep of the year. Outside hitter Chelsea Goodman led the way with a double-double of 12 kills and 11 digs.
BYU had 13 aces in the match. Goodman and libero Janvier Beaumont contributed five each.
“Serving is an area that we”ve tried to upgrade over a year ago,” Watson said. “I feel like we”re making some progress, and it was nice tonight to see a return on the investment that we”ve been making on that skill.”
The Cougars continue conference play next week with road matches against San Diego State and UNLV.