By John Gale
The situation looked grim for BYU”s women”s volleyball team, down two games to none in its match against UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The No. 22 (25-5) Cougars had never recovered from a 2-0 deficit this season, and the Gauchos (19-12) had never blown a match after winning the first two games.
All that ended as the Cougars defied recent history, fighting back to win the final three games and advance to the second round with a 3-2 victory.
The first game remained close throughout. Neither team managed more than a three-point lead until UCSB broke a 21-21 tie with four consecutive points. The Cougars cut the lead to one before another 4-0 run gave the Gauchos command on the way to a 30-27 win that ended on a kill from middle blocker Olivia Waldowski.
The second game was closer than the first. The Cougars clawed to a 21-17 lead, but UCSB fought back, eventually forcing a game point at 29-27. BYU won four straight points to force a game point of their own, but the Gauchos responded with three straight points to take the 32-30 win that ended on a BYU hitting error.
The Cougars trailed 11-8 in the third game before winning six straight points. The rally was fueled by the strong serves of defensive specialist Janvier Beaumont, who had three aces in the streak. The run propelled the team to a 30-27 win that ended on a kill from rightside hitter Erica Lott.
Having regained some momentum, the Cougars broke a 13-13 tie in the fourth game by reeling off five straight points behind Beaumont”s serves. They cruised from there, winning 30-21 on a kill from outside hitter Chelsea Goodman that forced a deciding fifth game.
The Cougars roared to a 6-0 lead to start the fifth game. The Gauchos fought back, cutting the lead to one, but BYU hung on for the 15-12 victory, advancing to the second round when outside hitter Kim Sorensen killed the ball down the middle of the court.
Goodman led the Cougar attack with 26 kills and 15 digs. Lott and setter Amy Schlauder also had double-doubles. Lott had 14 kills and 13 digs, while Schlauder distributed 62 assists and had 15 digs.
Outside hitter Jamie Garbisch led Gauchos with 18 kills and 12 digs. Four other players had at least 10 kills as setter Stephanie Brandt had 58 assists. Libero Emily Hendrickson added 32 digs.
Friday, Dec.1, 2006, at 8 p.m. MST, the Cougars play the winner of the late match between Southern California and Mississippi. Live video, audio and statistics are available from the schedule portion of the team”s page on byucougars.com.