Saturday afternoon was the last time seniors Christie Carpenter, Camilla Phillips and Casey Thurston suited up for the BYU women’s volleyball team. It would be a match to remember for the BYU seniors, as they won their final game in the Smith Fieldhouse 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-20) against the Portland Pilots.
It was also the last game of WCC play for both BYU (21-9, 10-6) and Portland (8-21, 2-14).
“The best thing about tonight was playing with my teammates for one last time,” Carpenter said. “They are seriously just the best. They were positive and encouraging the whole time and they played their hearts out for me.”
The Cougars lost a heart-breaker on Thursday but came out looking like a different team in the first set of the Portland game. Sophomore opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson was unstoppable for the Cougars with nine kills in the first game alone. Even with Hamson dominating at the net, Portland was able to keep the game close and had the Cougars playing on their toes. A block by Thurston and sophomore Kathryn LeCheminant put the Cougars up 1-0.
“We served well which was our game plan,” Carpenter said. “We also passed well and then our hitters took care of everything.”
The Pilots were unable to keep up with the Cougars’ pace in the second set. Carpenter and junior middle blocker Nicole Warner combined for nine kills, and the team finished the set with a .591 hitting percentage with the help of junior setter Heather Hannemann, who ran the Cougar offense. Portland led the set 11-8 at one point, before BYU called a timeout and started to play with more energy. BYU tied the game 13-13 and then scored four straight points to diminish the Pilots’ hopes of taking the second set.
“Right in the beginning [of the third set] we went down, not by much, but we made errors at the start,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We just stayed positive for the kids and they carried us through.”
Over the course of the season, BYU has struggled after the break to win the third game; however, it was a different story for the Cougars in their final home match of the year. The Pilots were never able to recover from the second set beating and fell to the Cougars by five points.
Leading the Cougars in kills was Hamson with 16, Carpenter with 12 and Thurston with seven. Hannemann finished the match with 41 assists, and junior libero Kendalyn Hartsock led the match in digs again with 13. BYU had 13 total team blocks, while Portland only put up four.
The Cougars finished the season third in the WCC, and Phillips said it has been great playing in the Smith Fieldhouse.
“It has been such a wonderful experience playing here,” Phillips said. “It was a great opportunity for me and I loved being here.”