Leilani Dodson, left, and Taylen Ballard-Nixon, right, block a hit against Gonzaga on Feb. 9 in the Smith Fieldhouse. The BYU women's volleyball team is 5-0 to start the season and will stay at home next to take on Loyola Marymount on Feb. 16 and 17. (Preston Crawley)

No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball sweeps Gonzaga in home-opener series

The No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball team brought its play back to the Smith Fieldhouse last week in a West Coast Conference matchup against Gonzaga on Feb. 9 and 10. The Cougars took the first match 3-1 on day one and swept Gonzaga 3-0 on day two of the series.

Four Cougars finished the first match with double-digit kills and two others racked up double-doubles. Sophomore setter Whitney Bower recorded her 13th career double-double with 43 assists and 18 digs and added two aces to her stat line. Freshman libero Madi Allen recorded her first career double-double with 13 assists and 18 digs.

Senior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon had 17 kills and hit at a .361 clip. Sophomore opposite Kate Grimmer had 12 kills, hitting .455, freshman Leilani Dodson had 13 kills hitting .423 and six blocks, and freshman Erin Livingston had 10 kills, hitting at a .333 clip. 

BYU came out strong, maintaining the lead and finishing the first set 25-17 with the team hitting .382 during the set. Set two took a step back as the Cougars fell 25-23 after a hard-fought set. BYU didn’t let the setback affect them and powered through set three 25-12 hitting at a .560 clip. They finished out set four 25-17 to win the match.

“We needed to create our energy, focus on ourselves,” Ballard-Nixon said after being asked about the change between set two and three. “We played for each other.”

Day two was completed with a sweep over the Bulldogs (25-19, 25-22, 25-22). The sets were closely contested, but BYU out-blocked Gonzaga 7-2 and totaled 52 digs and held Gonzaga to .178 hitting. 

Allen led the match in digs with 16. Bower collected 34 assists with nine digs. Dodson recorded five kills and added a match high five blocks. Livingston added six kills, while Ballard-Nixon recorded 12 kills, three blocks and two aces to her stat line.

Grimmer proved to be a major contributor in the match, tallying 13 kills, hitting at a .385 clip, while adding six digs and two blocks. Grimmer really showed out this week contributing big numbers in the wins over the Bulldogs.

BYU will continue at home next as the Cougars host Loyola Marymount in back-to-back matches on Feb. 16 and 17. They look to continue with their undefeated record after their 5-0 start.

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