BYU volleyball advances to Sweet Sixteen

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The No. 12 seeded BYU women’s volleyball team took down New Mexico State and Oklahoma this weekend to advance to the third round of the NCAA tournament.

The Cougars stand 28–3 in the season and are undefeated at home, 14–0.

In the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, the Cougars took down New Mexico State in a quick 3–0 sweep  dominating the matches 25–8, 25–17 and 25–14.

BYU Head Coach Shawn Olmstead said he was happy with the way his team played in executing its game plan.

“They came out exactly the way we wanted them to,” Olmstead said. “Our number one key tonight was to put the pressure on them. They got their hands in front of the attackers and made a bunch of nice digs in the back row. I’m overall really, really pleased with them staying the course.”

Junior opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson lead the Cougars against New Mexico State with 13 kills and 12 digs. Senior setter Heather Hannemann contributed 23 assists to the team, while sophomore Tia Withers and freshman Ciara Parker contributed eight digs each. At the net, Kimberly Dahl, Alexa Gray and Nicole Warner contributed 8, 6 and 5 kills respectively.

On Saturday in the second round of the tournament, BYU came out on top against Oklahoma with another 3-0 sweep taking the matches 25–17, 25–21 and 25–18.

Olmstead said he was impressed with Oklahoma’s fight, but overall the match went great for the Cougars.

“They gave us all we can handle there,” Olmstead said. “The scores maybe don’t show it, but I didn’t feel comfortable at all through that match to be honest. Hats off to them.”

Hamson led the Cougars once again with 17 kills, and Warner, Dahl and Gray contributed eight kills each. Withers gave the team 15 digs and Hannemann contributed 14 digs and 34 assists.

Hannemann said the wins were exciting for the team and while the Cougars are reaching the goals they set in the beginning of the season, they are ready to keep fighting.

“We’re not satisfied yet,” Hannemann said. “We want to keep going and see how far we can take this. Our coach always says ride it as far as you can, so we’re going to ride it as far as we can, and I think we can go as far as we want.”

Even though the Cougars are going to hit the road, Withers said were happy about being able to kick off the tournament at home.

“We have a great fan base here at home.” Withers said. “The energy here and being home is great. It’s great to finish on an undefeated season at home.”

The Cougars travel to Omaha, Neb. next week for the Sweet Sixteen round. BYU will take on the the No. 5 seeded University of Oregon. The Ducks (27-4) hosted Pepperdine, Northern Colorado and Dayton in Eugene Ore. for the first two rounds of tournament.

In the first round, Dayton edged by Pepperdine 3–2 and Oregon made quick work of Northern Colorado sweeping the match 3–0. Oregon swept the second round 3–0 as well on Saturday, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen over Dayton.

Oregon finished second in the Pac-12 this season with the best record a second-place finishing team has ever had and in the process recorded 18 sweeps. BYU split the West Coast Conference title with San Diego and has recorded 20 sweeps.

With nearly identical records and both teams being ranked in the top 20, the third round of the NCAA tournament is sure to be a close battle.

The Cougars and Ducks face off Friday at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. to fight for entrance into the Elite Eight.

 

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