BYU defeats San Diego to claim No. 1 rank in the WCC

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The No. 17 BYU women’s volleyball took down No. 18 San Diego to claim the No. 1 rank in the West Coast Conference Wednesday night.

WVball vs San Diego03 by Whitnie Soelberg.
The Cougars huddle during a time out during their match against the San Diego Toreros on Wednesday.

BYU beat San Diego 3-1. The win moved the Cougars 10-2 in the WCC and 22-2 overall.

BYU Head Coach Shawn Olmstead said the match was exciting and the crowd brought a good atmosphere to the team.

“That was an outstanding match for us,” Olmstead said. “To get down like that, it’s nice to respond when your back’s against the wall. Lose in a set and things are even, then come back and (win).”

The Cougars opened the first set of the match with the lead and were able to keep it the entire set, closing it 25-12. In the second set, BYU took the lead again but San Diego was able to tie it up at 3-3. From there the Toreros pulled ahead. The Cougars fought hard but were never able to catch back up. The Toreros took the second set 25-21.

Olmstead said between side changes he encouraged the girls and told them to expect San Diego to play even better. Olmstead said the Cougars did a great job against San Diego’s attacks.

“The girls responded pretty well,” Olmstead said. “We put pressure on them and we just kept serving.”

In the third set BYU and San Diego went through four lead changes and tied it up at 22-22. From there, two kills by junior opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson and an attack error from San Diego closed the set 25-23 for the Cougars.

Senior middle blocker Nicole Warner said the Cougars played amazing and fought hard.

“There was just so much energy and excitement on the court,” Warner said. “You could feel the will to win and the desire. It was truly an “Eye of the Tiger” moment. We had that confidence going out on the court that we can beat this team.”

The last set opened in a back-and-forth battle for the lead. At 7-7 the Cougars were able to pull away with a string of four kills by freshman outside hitter Kimberly Dahl. San Diego was never able to catch up, and freshman Alexa Gray closed the set 25-18 with a kill for the Cougars.

Gray said the team went into the match expecting San Diego to put up a fight, so the Cougars wanted to come out playing their best.

“We really stepped it up this week from last week,” Gray said. “Our passing was key. We just wanted to come out even harder and play even better.”

Sophomore Tia Withers lead the Cougars with 24 digs, recording her career high. Hamson followed with 12 digs and 15 kills, and Warner contributed 11 kills and 10 blocks. Dahl and libero Ciara Parker contributed 11 kills and 17 digs, respectively. Senior setter Heather Hannemann led the Cougars with 40 assists and 11 digs. Freshman Kathryn Lecheminant recorded her season high of 10 kills.

Warner said the win for the Cougars is a chance to believe this team has the ability to take the WCC title.

“It’s the confidence boost that is going to lift us to be WCC champions,” Warner said. “We just have to keep believing in ourselves and go make the magic happen on the court.”

The Cougar’s will take on Loyola Marymount at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse. Live stats will be available on the Cougars website.

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