In a back and forth battle the undefeated No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball team pulled through three tough sets, beating No. 14 Pepperdine in a 3-0 sweep Thursday night.
The win against Pepperdine extended the Cougars winning streak to 13-0 and tallied their number of 3-0 sweeps to 10.
Head coach Shawn Olmstead said the team played a balanced match and he was excited to start conference play with a win against a top ranked opponent.
“We were able to come back being down here and there,” Olmstead said. “There were times when we gave up a little lead which was unfortunate, but the ability to come back from that and show some heart and some gut, I like that. It was a good start for us.”
The Cougars opened the first set of the night with a serve by senior Heather Hannemann that led to an attack error by Pepperdine. The Cougars then gained a 4-1 lead only to have Pepperdine tie it back up at 5-5. In return, BYU made a four point run and hung on to the lead until three kills by Pepperdine tied the teams back up at 12-12. The teams then underwent 10 ties in a row until kills by juniors Jennifer Hamson, Jessica Jardine and Kathryn LeCheminant closed the match 25-23 for the Cougars.
Olmstead said from a coaches view the girls could have served tougher at times and passed better during the first set.
“We sneaked out a win there,” Olmstead said. “We would have won by more if we would have just passed a few more up to the setter.”
The second set opened with Pepperdine taking the lead and holding it. Kills by Hamson and assists by Hannemann and freshman Ciara Parker helped the Cougars tie the match at 15-15 and finally take lead for the first time that set. In an explosion of kills, Hamson, LeCheminant and freshman Kimberly Dahl closed the second set at 25-17.
Sophomore Tia Withers said the second set was pure excitement. Withers said even when the team was coming back from being down they could not let themselves get comfortable with their new lead.
“Even when we were coming back, it was exciting,” Withers said “But we couldn’t settle for that or let our guard down one bit, even with a lead. And that’s against any opponent.”
When the Cougars opened the third set, they lost the first point, but quickly secured the lead. Pepperdine fought hard and eventually caught up at 17-17. Similar to the first set, the teams fought back and forth for the lead until a kill by Warner, a kill by Hamson and an attack error by Pepperdine ended the set with the Cougars winning 25-22.
Hannemann said the girls worked to stay mentally composed in order to pull through and win the match.
“This whole season we’ve been focusing one game at a time, and in the game one ball at a time,” Hannemann said. “That’s what we did and we just kept with it the rest of the game.”
Hannemann contributed a total of 43 assists and eight digs during the match. Hamson led the team with 16 kills and freshman Alexa Gray followed close behind with 13 kills. LeCheminant, Warner and Dahl were also key players contributing nine, eight and five kills respectively. Parker gave the team 13 digs and four assists, and Withers gave the team nine digs.
Hannemann said it was really exciting to have the home opener against Pepperdine, the number one team in the conference and is eager to play their next conference match on Saturday.
The Cougars will play their second match of the West Coast Conference against Gonzaga at 1 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.
“We want to beat them,” Hannemann said. “They were at our place last year, and they totally beat us so we want to give it to them hardcore. It’ll be a good game.”
The match can be viewed on BYUtv and score updates will be posted to the Cougars website.