The No. 11 BYU women’s volleyball team falls to 15-1 after losing to St. Mary’s on Saturday.
Despite the loss, the Cougars are confident they can take the conference title this year. Earlier in the season, BYU swept the top ranked team in the West Coast Conference. The win over then No. 14 Pepperdine was the first time BYU had beaten a top 15 team since 2007.
The Cougars are four games into conference play and are ranked second in the WCC, ahead of Saint Mary’s despite losing to them on Saturday.
Next week the Cougars will travel to Los Angeles to take on Loyola Marymount. On paper, LMU may not look like they pose a threat, but the Cougars know it will prove to be a tough match. LMU (10-6, 1-2) stands sixth in the WCC standing; however, they swept the Saint Mary’s team that handed BYU their first lost this season. LMU also put up a tough fight against San Francisco before falling 3-1.
The Cougars are 3-1 in the WCC after last week’s 3-1 victory over San Francisco (10-6, 1-2) , and 3-1 loss to Saint Mary’s (8-7, 3-1). The teams had close sets in both matches.
Head coach Shawn Olmstead said losses like this happen and the team just needs to get over it going into next week.
“It happens,” Olmstead said. “We’ve just got to get back in the gym and start practicing. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to have better ball control. We’ve got to be able to receive serves better than we are right now.”
Olmstead also said he was impressed with the girls determination and fight in the match against San Francisco Thursday.
The Cougars won the first set against San Francisco 25-17. At the start of the second set the Cougars lost the lead and fought hard to catch back up but could not get closer than two points away. At the end of the set, a kill by freshman Kimberly Dahl brought the Cougars within one point but San Francisco still pulled out a win 23-25.
“We came back from a 23-16 deficit in set two and almost took that set,” Olmstead said. “I was impressed with their being able to rebound after losing set two.”
The Cougars entered the third set in full force by immediately taking the lead and holding it all the way to the finish, closing the third set 25-18. In the final set of the night, both teams fought back and fourth for the lead until the Cougars finally pulled ahead and won 25-19.
Olmstead said the team needed to work on getting the ball more to the middle players but the outside players played phenomenal.
“Our outsides were phenomenal (Thursday),” Olmstead said. “They took some big swings at crucial times throughout the entire match that really helped us.”
Freshman Alexa Gray led the team with 19 kills followed closely by freshman Kimberly Dahl who made career highs with three aces and 18 kills. Junior Jennifer Hamson also contributed three aces, nine kills and 10 digs. Freshman Ciara Parker gave the Cougars 25 digs and senior Heather Hannemann gave the Cougars 55 assists.
Dahl said the team did a good job working together to pull through the match against San Francisco.
“I thought we did really well at staying together as a team and building off each others’ energy,” Dahl said. “When it got tough or when we got down a little bit, we really just relied on each other and helped each other.”
Dahl said the match against San Francisco was physically and emotionally draining, but the girls would rest up and get ready to fight Saint Mary’s.
The Cougars played Saint Mary’s Saturday and put up a tough fight, but were not able to pull out the win in the end.
Olmstead said Saint Mary’s played well and the Cougars needed to work on ball control.
“I thought Saint Mary’s did a wonderful job at executing their game plan,” Olmstead said. “We couldn’t control the ball on our side of the net. I thought that was the thing that really hurt us in the end.”
Hannemann helped the Cougars out with 43 assists and eight digs against Saint Mary’s and Hamson gave the team 16 kills, four digs and held a hitting average of .419. But it was not enough to overcome Saint Mary’s who took the match 3-1.
After Saint Mary’s took the first two sets 25-15 and 25-11, the Cougars rebounded shortly to take the third set 25-19. The Gaels closed the match taking the fourth set 26-24.
The Cougars and Tigers play at Gersten Pavilion Thursday at 7 p.m. PST.