No. 1 women’s volleyball remains undefeated

Marquette Athletics
BYU defensive specialist Sydnie Martindale (9) celebrates with teammates at the Marquette Invitational in Milwaukee on Sept. 8, 2018. (Marquette Athletics)

No. 1 BYU women’s volleyball remains undefeated after the Marquette Invitational which included wins over nationally ranked teams in the AVCA Coaches poll.

The team returned on Sept. 9 from the two-day Marquette Invitational in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where BYU went 3-0 with victories over No. 10 USC, Syracuse, and No. 25 Marquette. BYU’s only set loss came in the final game on Sept. 8 against Marquette in the first set (23-25). The Cougars went on to win the next three sets (25-22, 25-20, 25-14) to keep their perfect season intact.

“We showed some nice composure losing the first set and being down in the second set,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said in a news release. “I’m proud of the team for fighting the entire match.”

The Cougars, led by National Player of the Year candidate Roni Jones-Perry, have already defeated three teams ranked in the top 25, including No. 10 USC and No. 1 Stanford in a one-week stretch. BYU has only lost a total of four sets thus far, with their win over Stanford on Aug. 31 being the only match pushed to five sets.

“I’m so happy for the team,” Olmstead said after the Stanford match. “They believed in each other and were able to accomplish something special.”

It was BYU’s first win over a No. 1 team since the 2000 season.

The Cougars hope to continue their momentum as they face rival No. 24 Utah in the Deseret First Duel on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Utes, led by Coach Beth Launiere, are currently 7-2 in the season. The two teams have split their last two matches, but the Cougars have won four out of the last five games. BYU has not beaten Utah at home since 2014.

BYU travels to Ogden on Saturday, Sept. 16 to face Weber State in the last non-conference match of the season. The Cougars have never lost to the Wildcats, and BYU is 61-0 in the series against Weber State dating back to 1970.

The Cougars finished last season ranked No. 13 and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament. They have been knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen five out of the last six years with the exception in 2014 when they lost the national championship game to Penn State.

BYU is led by senior Jones-Perry who has 125 kills so far this season and was named the AVCA Player of the Week on Sept. 4. Middle blockers Kennedy Eschenberg and Heather Gneiting lead the team with 38 and 32 blocks, respectively.

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