No. 16 BYU women’s volleyball sweeps Portland twice in opening week

The No. 16 women’s volleyball team dominated in the opening week of West Coast Conference play as the Cougars swept Portland on Jan. 26 and 27. 

The Cougars showed no signs of rust due to an extended off-season, coming out of the gate strong to win the first set 25-9. They completed the sweep with scores of 25-22 and 25-17 in the final two sets.

Senior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon matched her career high with 14 kills, hitting at a .393 clip and leading the Cougars to their season-opener win over the Pilots. Ballard-Nixon also added seven digs and a pair of aces to the team’s stats.

Sophomore setter Whitney Bower had 32 assists and matched her career high of 18 digs, while freshman libero Madi Allen racked up 17 digs in her first collegiate match.

Portland put up a bit of a fight on the second night, but BYU managed to get another sweep over the Pilots, winning 25-23, 26-24 and 25-22 in the three sets.

Senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg led the team with 11 kills on a .474 clip. Ballard-Nixon contributed nine kills and a career-high four aces. Bower had 34 assists, eight digs and an ace, and Allen hit double-digit digs for her second match in a row with 10. Sophomore defensive specialist Grace Wee had a career-high 11 digs against the Pilots in the second match of the season.

The 2-0 Cougars are moving forward and placing their focus on this week after their back-to-back matches against the Pilots.

This season the WCC is playing back-to-back matches to mitigate extra travel while still playing all their conference games. The teams are also not switching sides of the court to keep from unnecessary exposures.

The Cougars’ matches on Feb. 2 and 3 against Santa Clara have been postponed due to the Broncos pushing back their season start date two weeks. BYU has added a match against cross-town rival UVU on Feb. 4 to make up for the postponed contests.

BYU has won all 15 meetings against the Wolverines in the all-time series and looks to extend that record to 16 as they travel to Orem this week.

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