The No. 13 BYU women’s volleyball team beat Pepperdine 3-1 Thursday moving them one step closer to the West Coast Conference title. The win improved the Cougar’s WCC record to 13-2, and 25-2 overall.
On Saturday, the Cougars fight San Diego for the league champion title. The Cougars need a win for the title is a win. If the Cougars fall to the Toreros, BYU and San Diego will share the WCC title.
Head Coach Shawn Olmstead said the girls worked hard against Pepperdine, and the win was a confidence boost as the Cougars prepare for the San Diego match.
In the first set against Pepperdine, the Cougars fought the Waves through a back and forth battle of 11 tied scores. At 12-12 the Cougars went on a three point run to take the lead. Pepperdine tried to catch back up, but at 15-14 the Cougars went on a nine point run to bring the score to 24-14. Pepperdine managed to get in one more point before a Wave service error gave the set to the Cougars at 25-15.
Junior Kathryn LeCheminant said the Cougars were determined to take the match and they worked hard no matter what was thrown their way.
“We had a lot of fire,” LeCheminant said. “We had a lot of fight in us. Balls weren’t always going our way, but we all just played well. We came together and played as a team, and the fight and fire that we had as a team just carried us through.”
After four tied scores at the start of the second set, Pepperdine pulled ahead and took the lead. At 10-15, the Waves lead by five points, but multiple kills by the Cougars pulled the team within one point of the Waves at 20-21. The Cougars were never able to take the lead in the set, and a kill by the Waves closed the match 23-25 for the Waves.
Olmstead said the Cougars did not play their best the second set, but that is no reason to give up.
“After the second set, I believed our best was still ahead of us,” Olmstead said. “I just told the girls to continue to move forward. It’s another set and you’ve got to compete. You’ve got to win it, or else we’ll be playing more sets. I told them to do their best to stay composed.”
Pepperdine opened the third set in full force, taking the lead. At 15-15 the Cougars caught up, and the teams went through six tied scores before the Cougars pulled ahead. A kill by LeCheminant closed the set for the Cougars 25-22.
LeCheminant said teamwork secured the win for the Cougars and allowed them to take the set.
“I couldn’t have made all those kills without the help of my teammates,” LeCheminant said. “I can’t do my job unless I get a good pass. I couldn’t do it without my teammates making it easy to take care of the ball.”
The Cougars opened the fourth set with the lead but the Waves soon caught back up. At 17-17 the Cougars went on a four point run securing the lead and closed the set 25-21, ending the match 3-1 for the Cougars.
Olmstead said both teams performed well and the Waves put up a good fight.
“I thought Pepperdine played really well,” Olmstead said. “They dug every shot we sent their way. We just made a few more plays than they did.”
Senior Heather Hannemann lead the Cougars with 51 assists and 13 digs against Pepperdine. Sophomore Tia Withers and junior Jessica Jardine contributed 12 and 10 digs, respectively. Junior Jennifer Hamson made 23 kills for the Cougars, and LeCheminant reached her career high in kills with 15. Freshmen Kimberly Dahl and Alexa Gray each contributed 10 kills for the Cougars.
LeCheminant said the Cougars played a great match and she had a good time taking down Pepperdine.
“I went out and I had fun,” LeCheminant said. “I remembered it’s a game and I’m here because I want to play. I really enjoyed myself and enjoyed being there with my team. There’s no place I’d rather be than the position that we are with my teammates.”
Looking forward to battling for the WCC title Saturday, the Cougars will take on San Diego in the Jenny Craig Pavilion at 1 p.m. PST. Lives states and video streaming will be available on the Toreros Game Central page. Match results will also be posted to the Cougar’s website.