No. 9 BYU women’s volleyball takes first loss of season

Whitney Young Howard connects with a ball during the DC Sports Koehl Classic. (BYU Photo)
Whitney Young Howard connects with a ball during the DC Sports Koehl Classic. The Cougars fell to the Utes on Thursday. (BYU Photo)

The No. 9 BYU women’s volleyball team was unable to defeat rival Utah, falling in five sets to the Utes on Thursday night in Provo.

After losing the first two sets the BYU women’s volleyball team fought back to win set three and four but failed to pull out the fifth and final set (25-27, 20-25, 25-23, 25-17, 13-15).

“That match was exactly what we needed to learn,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “I thought our pins we’re just fantastic, Mckenna and Ronnie held us in there and they did their job.”

Freshman Mckenna Miller led the team with 24 kills while Veronica Jones-Perry contributed 20 kills on a .289 clip. Amy Boswell assisted the team with six blocks and seven kills and Mary Lake had 21 digs.

BYU and Utah played a close game the first set with the lead changing every few points. The Cougars and Utes found themselves tied at 7-7, 11-11, 14-14, 19-19 and then again at 21-21. The Utes began to creep ahead forcing BYU to call a timeout to regroup and ice the server, when they retook the court Utah served the ball in the net leaving the Cougars down by one. A kill from Miller and a ball hit out by Utah brought the two teams to a tie once again at 24-24. A BYU missed serve gave Utah the advantage at 26-25 which led to Utah winning the first set 27-25.

The second set was just as close as the first one. After trading points the first portion of the set Miller provided back-to-back kills as well as a kill and block from Whitney Howard the Cougars found themselves up 16-12 However, Utah answered back with a 4-0 run and slowly took the lead from there. Utah had the advantage at 21-18, but after missing a serve and the Cougars winning a big rally BYU only trailed by one, 21-20. Utah went on another 4-0 run to take the set 25-20.

Once again the beginning of the third set was close with the teams being tied at 12-12, but from there Utah pulled away, leading 19-15. However, the Cougars fought back to bring themselves within in one with a Miller kill at 20-19 causing Utah to call a time out. BYU found some momentum after the timeout and with a big block from Howard and Lacy Haddock and a kill from Miller the Cougars took the lead at 22-20. The teams tied again at 22-22 but another Miller kill and a kill from Jones-Perry brought the Cougars to set point 24-22. Jones-Perry contributed another kill which won the first set of the night for the Cougars 25-23.

The Cougars came out ready to play in the fourth set and went on a 10-2 run to lead by seven points at 17-10. The Cougars cruised from there and won the set 25-17 on a Utah hitting error taking the game to the decisive fifth set to 15 points.

BYU found themselves down at the beginning of the fifth and final set but tied the game at 8-8 with the assistance of an ace from Makenna Santiago and a big block from Lyndie Haddock and Boswell. However, Utah kept pushing back and tied the set at 13-13 and then went on to win the set and match 15-13.

The Cougars will be back in action Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Smith Field House as they take on CSUN.

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