Cougars sweep LMU in a long three sets

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Sophomore outside hitter Alexa Gray led the No. 21 ranked women’s volleyball team in a long three-set sweep (30-28, 29-27, 25-21)¬†against the Loyola Marymount Lions in the Smith Fieldhouse on Halloween night.

This match improved BYU’s record (18-4, 11-1 WCC), and the team remains at the top of the West Coast Conference by one game.

“I really felt like that was a five-set match,” said BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead. “It took a lot out of us, and it just felt draining and exhausting. Statistically, our stats were one of the better matches this year, and for our girls to gut it out, that’s big time.”

Teammates celebrate during the volleyball team's dramatic three set win over Loyola Marymount on Thursday. Photo by Todd Wakefield/ BYU Photo
Teammates celebrate during the volleyball team’s dramatic three-set win over Loyola Marymount on Thursday. (Photo by Todd Wakefield/BYU Photo)

To start out the first set, the squads traded points with a slight LMU advantage. LMU got after it at the service line and dug everything. The Cougars tied the game at 15 and gain a 18-16, lead forcing the Lions into a timeout.

Gray gave BYU a few kills and was at set point 24-21 until the Lions came from behind to tie it at 25. A few great rallies sent the game into overtime, and Hannah Robison’s kill finally ended the first set 30-28.

Gray made some really great swings at the end of each match and tied her season-high of 22 kills on 40 attempts with only four errors finishing this match on a team-high.

“Camry and I have been working on making the sets a little bit faster, and I think that really opened up the block for me so I could swing harder,” Gray said.

In the second set, BYU held a four-point lead at 8-4 until LMU went on a significant run. One at a time the Cougars started making some defense plays with stabbing digs from defensive specialist Tia Withers Welling.

Senior Jessica Jardine made a kill to separate the score, giving BYU the 17-16 advantage followed by a pair of kills from junior Tambre Haddock. The set was tied up at 24 before once again heading into overtime. BYU stayed strong with Gray kills, a successful block and a Lion error to take the second set 29-27.

“We played well together as a team, and we really meshed tonight,” Camry Godfrey said. “We wanted to focus on passing and finding the middles to open up the outside. Alexa pulled out some huge kills tonight and really made a difference.”

The Cougars came into the third set with two game wins behind them and were determined to finish. The teams battled back and forth, and although BYU out-dug LMU, the Lions seemed to return everything. The only thing LMU couldn’t return were Gray’s kills, and the Cougars took the third set and match point 25-21.

BYU will face off against conference foe Pepperdine for the second time on Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse.

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