Despite the No. 13 BYU women’s volleyball team’s loss to San Diego 3-2 Saturday, the Cougars claimed a share in the West Coast Conference title and won the automatic bid for the NCAA tournament.
The Cougars now stand with their best league record since 2006 at 25-3 overall and 13-3 in the WCC. Because San Diego also stands 13-3 in the WCC and both teams fell to the same opponents, the conference looked at the number of sets BYU and San Diego won against each other in their two matches during the season in order to determine the bid. BYU took five sets and San Diego only took four, securing the bid for the Cougars.
BYU Head Coach Shawn Olmstead said he is proud of how well the Cougars have played and it has been a good season.
“I’m so happy for the girls,” Olmstead said. “It’s been such an exciting and rewarding season. These kids deserve this championship and I’m so happy to see them raise that trophy.”
In the first set against San Diego, BYU opened with the lead, but San Diego tied it back up at 17-17. From there the teams fought through three tied scores before San Diego pulled ahead. Junior Kathryn LeCheminant contributed two kills to try and catch the Cougars back up, but the Toreros countered with their own kills and took the set 25-23.
The Cougars and Toreros went through three lead changes at the start of the second set as they fought to take control. At 13-13, the Toreros went on a four point run to take a nice lead. The Cougars then countered with a five point run, leaving the teams tied once again at 23-23. The teams battled through three more tied scores until two kills by San Diego closed the set 28-26 for the Toreros.
Down two sets, the Cougars came on the court with determination and opened the third set with a 5-0 run. Multiple kills and blocks by the Cougars continued to pull the team farther ahead of the Toreros and two kills and a service ace by junior Jennifer Hamson closed the set for the Cougars 25-13.
San Diego led the opening of the fourth, but kills by the Cougars and errors by the Toreros allowed the Cougars to catch back up and take the lead. The Cougars pulled farther ahead with a five point run, but the Toreros caught back up with a four point run bringing the score 24-23 for the Cougars. A kill by senior Nicole Warner closed the set for 25-23 for the Cougars, leaving the teams 2-2 for the match.
At the start of the final set, San Diego broke a 3-3 tied score and took the lead. The Cougars trailed close behind and managed to bring their score within one point of the Toreros at 14-13, but a kill from the Toreros closed the set 15-13, ending the match for the Toreros 3-2.
Senior setter Heather Hannemann lead the Cougars with 55 assists against the Toreros and hit a season high of 15 digs. Hannemann also stands at No. 8 in BYU history for career assists. At No. 3 in BYU history for block assists, Warner contributed 13 blocks and 10 kills for the Cougars. Alexa Gray and LeCheminant both gave three digs along with eight and 10 kills respectively.
Junior Jessica Jardine and freshman Ciara Parker contributed with 11 and 14 digs respectively, while sophomore Tia Withers reached a career-high in digs with 30. Hamson gave the Cougars 23 kills and 15 digs against the Toreros, and sophomore Kimberly Dahl contributed eight kills and five digs to the Cougars.
BYU’s next match will be against Utah Valley Univeristy Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. Selection for the NCAA tournament takes place on Nov. 25 at 4 p.m. EST.