BYU volleyball upset No. 2 San Diego on Sept. 20, sweeping the Toreros in three sets (25–20, 25–21, 25–21).
Leading the Cougars in the match were sophomore outside hitter Alexa Gray, with 10 kills, and freshman middle blocker Amy Boswell, with nine blocks and nine kills.
BYU is the first team this season to both upset and win three sets against San Diego. The Cougars had a plan to pose more of a threat in the middle, and that’s exactly what they did.
“More than anything I’m really happy for these girls and our staff,” said head coach Shawn Olmstead. “The team really got into the game plan and followed it perfectly, and that’s why we had so much success.”
Boswell proved to be a huge intimidation factor and threat to SDU with her aggressive offensive and defensive plays. She and the other blockers were disciplined and stuck to their coaches’ game plan.
“I’ve been itching to get in a game, so I’m really excited,” Boswell said. “We played amazing tonight. I thought we had excellent passing, and that’s the only reason we could run our offense.”
The middle blockers played a huge part in the first set with aggression at the net. At the end of the first set, Kathryn LeCheminant took advantage of an SDU overpass and killed it on San Diego’s 10 foot line, giving BYU its biggest lead of the game at 17–14. LeCheminant then had a slide attack, service ace and tip kill to win the match 25–21.
During the second set the Cougars and Toreros traded points between long rallies. The score remained tied up at 7–7 until setter Camry Godfrey aced the Toreros. BYU played well defensively with lots of blocks and good ups in the back row from sophomore libero Ciara Parker. San Diego fought back to tie the set 12–12. Gray then led the team with a 5–0 run of persistent and deadly kills on the outside and right side at 18–14. Boswell had two kills and a block to secure BYU’s lead 23–18. The Toreros made a 3–0 run to bring the score at 23–21. Tambre Haddock killed the next ball, and USD made an error, giving BYU the set 25–21.
With many thanks to Gray and the usual large crowd in attendance at the Smith Fieldhouse, the Cougars came into the third set with momentum and fire. Gray said the team feeds off the crowd’s energy, and the momentum can be carried through the rest of conference play.
“I felt like I was on fire and could hit any shot,” Gray said. “I love playing here; it’s a rush. The crowd is amazing, and we feed off of it.”
BYU led the third set with a few strong blocks from senior outside hitter Jessica Jardine and Boswell. USD battled back and forth until the Cougars gained the lead 18–17. Two kills by Gray and Haddock and a San Diego error brought BYU to match point at 24–19. Gray made her 10th kill on match point to upset the San Diego Toreros 25–21.
Looking forward from the upset, the Cougars expect to be wearing a target on their backs as they continue through conference play. They host Saint Mary’s on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Smith Fieldhouse and know they will have to continue to play their best as more teams become aware of their talent and success.
“The girls were so excited, but I told them that was game one of conference and now we have a bigger bullseye,” Olmstead said.