The No. 7 BYU women’s volleyball team swept Pacific (25-19, 25-20, 25-16) on Oct. 7 and miraculously came back against Saint Mary’s in a five-set thriller (22-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-23, 15-10) on Oct. 5.
The Cougars improved to 17-1 on the season with the wins and 6-0 in West Coast Conference action.
“The team came out focused on what they wanted to do today,” said BYU coach Heather Olmstead after the Pacific game. “Our offense and defense executed at a high level against a good Pacific team.”
Veronica Jones-Perry had 13 kills and six digs. Taylen Ballard added nine kills, hitting .533, while McKenna Miller chipped in eight kills in the win against Pacific.
Mary Lake and Sydnie Martindale collected 10 and nine digs, respectively, and Kennedy Redding added eight blocks to round out the defensive effort.
Pacific took an early lead in the first set against BYU before back-to-back kills from Miller helped the Cougars put together a 6-1 run to take an 8-6 advantage.
From there, an ace and block for Cougars gave them a lead and a Cosy Burnett kill won the set 25-19.
Pacific began the second set with multiple errors to hand BYU an 8-7 lead.
A 4-1 Cougar run opened a 12-8 lead for BYU after consecutive Redding and Ballard blocks.
Kills from Jones-Perry helped extend the advantage to seven, 21-14.
Pacific scored the next three points to get back in the set, trailing 21-17, but the come back was too late as BYU won the set 25-20.
A pair of kills from Ballard and Burnett helped BYU take a 6-3 lead to begin the third set and the Cougars never looked back.
A Jones-Perry kill made it 13-9, and another pair of kills from Jones-Perry pushed the Cougars on a 5-0 run to go up 18-10.
Three-straight points got Pacific back within five, down 18-13, but the rally proved too late as BYU cruised through the rest of the set, winning it 25-16 on a Pacific service error.
BYU also played against Saint Mary’s on Oct. 5 and won the intense five-set match.
After losing the first two sets to the Gaels, the Cougars came back and won the next three sets to earn the victory.
“I’m proud of our team’s fight tonight,” Olmstead said. “Things weren’t going well for us, but we just never gave up. Saint Mary’s played well and Rob (Browning) does a great job, so we knew his team would be prepared. We had some players step up and execute when it mattered, which was nice to see.”
The Gaels had 63 kills to BYU’s 61, but 32 errors from Saint Mary’s left the door open for the Cougars.
In the third set, BYU jumped out to a 7-3 before Saint Mary’s tied it with a 4-0 run.
Things remained tight until a Jones-Perry kill and consecutive attack errors from the Gaels gave BYU a 20-16 lead.
Saint Mary’s cut the lead to three but another pair of errors from the Gaels followed by another Jones-Perry kill got BYU on the scoreboard with its first set.
The fourth set was incredibly tight. Things were tied at 23-23 before back-to-back kills from Burnett and Jones-Perry gave the Cougars the two-point margin to tie the game at two sets apiece.
In the final set, BYU opened a 9-3 lead that was too much for Saint Mary’s to overcome.
The Gaels survived three match points before BYU called a timeout, leading 14-10.
After the break, Burnett set up Jones-Perry for the match-winning kill.
The Cougars return home to the Smith Fieldhouse to face Portland on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. MDT and Gonzaga on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. MDT.