No. 14 BYU women’s volleyball picks up 7th WCC title after sweeping Santa Clara
The BYU women’s volleyball team completed its series sweep of Santa Clara and secured the West Coast Conference title on Wednesday in the Smith Fieldhouse. This is BYU’s seventh title in the 10 years since joining the WCC and fifth in the six seasons since head coach Heather Olmstead took the reins.
After sweeping Santa Clara on Tuesday afternoon, BYU came into the game ready for a repeat performance.
The Cougars and Broncos started the first set exchanging point for point. BYU took off on a 5-1 run after three unforced Santa Clara errors and kept climbing. BYU took the first set 25-18.
The Cougars continued playing with a dominant presence in the second start, starting with a 6-2 lead. Freshman middle blocker Leilani Dodson and sophomore defensive specialist Grace Wee contributed aces. Commanding performances by sophomore opposite Kate Grimmer, senior outside Taylen Ballard-Nixon and senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg led the Cougars to a 25-16 win in set two.
Set three started with the Broncos taking an early 3-1 lead. BYU took over from that point, going on a 10-1 run and following that up with three more runs, led by Ballard-Nixon and Eschenberg, to finish out the set 25-9.
Ballard-Nixon led the way for the Cougars with 12 kills, hitting at a .500 clip, along with four digs and one ace. Eschenberg finished the match with nine kills and eight blocks, hitting .643. Sophomore setter Whitney Bower contributed another double-double with 31 assists and 10 digs and freshman libero Maddi Allen reached double figures as well with 11 digs.
The Cougars finished the regular season with an outstanding 16-1 record overall and 15-1 in conference. BYU automatically qualified for the NCAA Tournament with the outright championship, which is much needed this season, as the tournament has been reduced from 64 to 48 teams due to the pandemic.
BYU will ride its nine-match win streak into Selection Sunday to await seeding on April 4. The NCAA Tournament is slated to begin on April 14 in Omaha, Nebraska.