The No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball team took down Portland in a quick 3-0 sweep Thursday night.
The win against the Pilots moved the Cougars record to 5-1 in the West Coast Conference and 17-1 overall. The Cougars remain undefeated on their home court with 3-0 sweeps for all six matches.
The first set opened with the Pilots taking the first three points and eventually pulling their team into a 10-5 lead over the Cougars. Head Coach Shawn Olmstead said the Cougars had a slow start but once the team put pressure on the Pilots and tried not to over do things, the Cougars started to score more.
“I told them to just keep the pressure on Portland and just let the points come to them,” Olmstead said. “We calmed down, and things just started to unfold, and that’s when we started to score more and play better.”
Freshman Ciara Parker served the Cougars through a five-point run, and freshman Kimberly Dahl gave the Cougars three kills to tie the score 13-13 in the first set. The Cougars held the lead for the rest of the set, and a block by junior Kathryn LeCheminant closed the set at 25-22.
The second set started off with six tied scores, leaving the Pilots and Cougars neck-in-neck at 6-6. A shower of kills by junior Jennifer Hamson, senior Nicole Warner and freshman Alexa Gray helped the team take off in multiple four- and five-point runs. A kill by junior Kimberli Boswell, a kill by Gray and four kills by Hamson closed the second set for the Cougars 25-12.
Hamson said her streak of kills was due in part to setter Heather Hannemann’s assists.
“Heather just gets the ball to the right people,” Hamson said. “She does a really good job at that, and so when I see the ball I try to put it away the best I can.”
Hannemann contributed a total of 28 assists and gave the team ten digs throughout the match. She also opened the third set serving the Cougars into a 6-0 lead and giving the Cougars two aces.
The Cougars pulled their lead to 20-2 before the Pilots began to make a small comeback. With small three- and four-point runs, the Pilots pulled closer to the Cougar’s lead but were not able to catch up. A block by Gray ended the third set 25-12 for the Cougars.
Boswell said the win against Portland brings the Cougars one step closer to reaching their goal of becoming conference champions.
“We worked hard for every point,” Boswell said. “Whether we’re down or we’re up, we treat each ball the same. We just work hard and fight through whatever is going on. We take it one game at a time, and we are one step closer to reaching our goal.”
Boswell contributed two digs and two kills during the match. Gray and Hamson led the team with 10 kills each, followed by Warner with seven kills. LeCheminant contributed five kills and held a hitting average of .667, the highest of the night. Sophomore Tia Withers and junior Jessica Jardine gave the Cougars eight and five digs respectively. Freshman Samantha Staker also contributed two digs.
Olmstead said the girls are getting to that point in the season where they are building confidence and starting to understand how to play well together.
“They’re starting to see who they are and how they can score points, and how to have the ability to put those things together,” Olmstead said.
Olmstead also said the team still has some work to do to prepare for San Francisco.
“San Francisco’s good,” Olmstead said. “They’ve had some good wins this season. They’ve done a wonderful job, and so we’ve got our hands full. We need to get back at it at practice and work on some things.”
The Cougars will return to the Smith Fieldhouse Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to take on the Dons. The match will be broadcasted on BYUtv, and live stats will be available on the Cougars website.