BYU defeated the No. 2 Texas Longhorns in four sets (25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 26-24) to advance to the NCAA women’s volleyball national championship game.
“I’m just enjoying every minute with these kids,” coach Shawn Olmstead said. “There’s a few of them that don’t want this season to end. I’ll keep rolling with them as long as they want to keep rolling. We were down a few points and came back — there was some negative there — but right now that’s not my concern. I’m honored to be a part of these kids’ success.”
With the score tied in the fourth set 24-24, Jennifer Hamson went for a kill that landed out, but the refs called a touch on Texas to give the Cougars their second match point at 25-24. After a long rally on match point Hamson went for a kill but got blocked, Tia Welling kept the ball in play and Alohi Robins-Hardy got the ball back to Hamson for a kill off the Longhorn block for the win.
The match started out with the two teams trading points. Texas got a mini lead at 13-11 but BYU went on a 3-1 run to tie the game up 15-15 after two kills from Hamson and a kill from Tambre Nobles. Texas and BYU continued to trade points and brought the match to 23-23. Hamson got a kill to give BYU the set point, and then Hamson and Amy Boswell combined for a block to give the first set to BYU.
With the score tied in the second set at 8-8, BYU went on a 9-2 run to take a commanding 17-10 lead in the second set. BYU was able to ease into the second-set win, and it took a commanding 2-0 lead into the break. Alexa Gray paced the Cougars with seven kills in the second set.
The third set started like the others, with the Longhorns and Cougars trading points. The set was tied up at 17-17, but the Longhorns went on a 8-0 run to take the third set and force a fourth set.
Hamson led the Cougars with 22 kills, 10 digs and seven blocks. Gray added 19 kills and had an impressive .421 hitting average. Nobles had 11 kills, eight digs and four blocks. Robins-Hardy gave the Cougars 54 assists and eight digs. Boswell and Whitney Young led the blocking efforts for BYU with nine and seven blocks, respectively.
BYU becomes the first non-seeded team to ever make the NCAA women’s volleyball national championship game. The Cougars will take on Penn State on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (MST). Penn State is looking for its seventh national championship, and the Cougars are looking for their first. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.