BYU women’s volleyball defeated No. 2 Stanford as the two met for the first time since the NCAA semifinal game that ended the Cougar’s 2018-19 season.
Last year, BYU had a 27-games win streak, including a close early-season victory over Stanford (3-2). BYU continued to win and earned the No. 1 rank. The Cougars lost against LMU in the last game before the NCAA First Round and remained a top seed up until their game against Stanford.
Stanford’s only loss last year was to BYU. When the two teams faced off in the semifinals, they each had one loss and 31 wins. Stanford swept BYU (3-0), and the Cougar’s season was over. Stanford continued on to win the NCAA finals for the second time in three years.
Before this Saturday’s game, BYU was 8-2 and Stanford was 6-1. The Cougar’s hoped for a redeeming win, and Stanford aimed to maintain its dominance.
Mckenna Miller was out for the season during last year’s semifinal game because of an ACL injury. She proved vital in the rematch against Stanford with 18 kills and two aces. Kate Grimmer and Heather Gneiting finished the match with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Morgan Bower and Mary Lake also played an important role with 33 digs between the two of them. Bower’s hitting percentage was .750.
Stanford gained the first point of the game, but after kills from Miller and Madelyn Robinson, the Cougars began to pull ahead (7-3). They remained in the lead until Stanford closed the gap (12-12), then led (14-12). The two teams then swapped points (16-15) until Stanford won a rally and continued to gain until winning the set (25-18).
The second set began with an ace from the Cardinals. The two teams then swapped points with two kills by Miller, one by Kate Grimmer, and another by Robinson (5-4). BYU began to lead with two kills from Miller and one from Gneiting (11-7). The Cougars were up by five points (24-19). After four tries for the setpoint, BYU won (25-22) through a block by Robinson.
Stanford began the third set with an early lead (5-3). Gneiting’s block and a kill by Taylen Ballard-Nixon helped the Cougars close the gap (12-12). The teams both continued to score (15-15). Then with three kills, Stanford took the lead (18-15). After a BYU timeout, Miller had two kills and Grimmer one, the score was (18-18), which caused Stanford to call its own timeout. BYU responded to the timeout with an ace from Bower and a block by Kennedy Eschenberg (20-19). The teams then swapped points until the score appeared to be 24-24, but BYU won the third set with an overturned call (25-23). The Cougars ended the set with 31 digs.
The first five points of the fourth set belonged to BYU. Stanford then gained six points in a row to take the lead (6-5). Through two kills from Eschenberg and an ace from Miller, BYU took the lead once again (8-6). The Cougars continued to lead with 10 more kills and two aces (24-20). Stanford fought back and took a one-point lead.
The teams swapped points (29-29) until BYU pulled ahead to win the match (31-29).
The Cougars will face Gonzaga on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2019.