BYU setter Heather Hannemann set up the perfect pass for middle blocker Nicole Warner to come in for the kill. St. Mary’s could tell by that first play of the match they were in for a long night.
Despite having lost in the first meeting, the BYU women’s volleyball team took St. Mary’s down 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-13) Thursday night.
“The girls responded to our great game plan and executed it very well,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “The [players] are really starting to feel it. It is an attribute to them and their hard work.”
Sophomore middle blocker Kathryn LeCheminant dominated the first set by making it nearly impossible for St. Mary’s to get a decent hit over the net. Her efforts contributed to the seven team blocks the Cougars had in the first match alone. The Gaels used both of their timeouts the first match to try and find an answer for BYU’s attacking offense but still fell by 11 points.
“The coaches prepared us really well and had a good scouting report for us,” senior outside hitter Casey Thurston said. “We learned a lot from the last match and we came out ready to play.”
During the second set, the Cougars and the Gaels battled for the lead until Thurston took over with four hard-hitting kills to gain momentum and put BYU back on top.
“I have to give credit to my setter [Hannemann],” Thurston said. “She was setting really well tonight and so it was easy to hit off of her.”
However, the Cougars struggled at the start of the third set and lost LeCheminant due to an injury. But sophomore Kimberli Boswell stepped up to help BYU turn it around, and senior Christie Carpenter and sophomore Jennifer Hamson’s hitting took over and finished off the Gaels in the final set.
“We focused a lot on passing,” junior Kendalyn Hartsock said, “and we have been working on what our coaches have asked us to do and we can see the results in the end.”
Hamson led the Cougars with 12 kills and was followed by Thurston, who contributed eight. Hannemann had 27 assists with seven digs, and Hartsock also had seven digs. BYU dominated defensively coming up with 16.5 total team blocks to St. Mary’s two.
“As long as we play our game, we are good,” Olmstead said.
The Cougars hit the road again next week to take on Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 29.