Women’s volleyball opens conference play with win over Pacific

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Roni Jones-Perry (12) celebrates with teamates Mary Lake (18), Lyndie Haddock-Eppich (6) and Heather Gneiting (2) after scoring a point against Pacific on Thursday Sept. 20. (BYU Photo)

No. 1 BYU women’s volleyball opened play in the West Coast Conference Thursday, Sept. 20, with a sweep over Pacific (25-12, 25-20, 25-14) in the Smith Fieldhouse.

Roni Jones-Perry led the Cougars with a team-high 13 kills on a .765 hitting percentage. McKenna Miller added 11 on a .688 hitting percentage. Heather Gneiting led the team in blocks with 6, while Lyndie Haddock-Eppich led the team in assists with 35.

“This is a new chapter in the season for us, it’s the West Coast Conference,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “We’re excited to see some of those teams that we’re familiar with. Pacific was the first team up and now we’re excited to play Saint Mary’s on (Sept. 22).”

BYU is now 15-7 all-time against Pacific and has never lost to the Tigers since joining the WCC in 2011. The Cougars are also 13-6 all-time against Saint Mary’s and have won their last eight matches against the Gaels.

The Cougars were the unanimous pick to finish atop the conference in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll, receiving 81 points and a maximum nine first-place votes. San Diego, who shared the conference title with BYU last season, was picked to finish second with a total of 73 points.

“I think our conference is doing great. There are some teams making some noise. I’ve definitely been paying attention,” Olmstead said. “We’re looking around all the time to see what other teams are doing, and then ultimately it comes down to playing each other on match day.”

Haddock-Eppich pointed out the importance of starting conference play at home in the Smith Fieldhouse.

“I think it’s awesome. A lot of the time we’re on the road for the beginning of conference,” Haddock-Eppich said. “I’m excited to have all the fans back again, and I know they’re going to bring it every game because they trust that we can bring it every game.”

Jones-Perry acknowledged the excitement surrounding the team this season from fans and students alike.

“Walking around on campus you hear more people talking about volleyball, which is really cool,” Jones-Perry said. “Our fans have been incredible this year, so huge kudos to them. We’re really grateful for the support and energy that they’re bringing to our games.”

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