The Cougars celebrate a point against UNLV on Aug. 28 in the Smith Fieldhouse. (Melissa Collado)

BYU women’s volleyball opens fall season with three-straight sweeps at doTERRA Classic

The BYU women’s volleyball team has yet to drop a set through three matches to open the fall season, capping off the weekend with a 3-0 win over reigning Mountain West champion UNLV in the doTERRA Classic at the Smith Fieldhouse on Aug. 28.

“It’s super hard for opponents to know how to defend us,” senior Kennedy Eschenberg said after the UNLV win. “We can score from every position and our depth really opens up other people. We all feel genuinely happy for each other because we all want to see each other succeed.”

BYU started the fall season ranked No. 15 in the nation after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in the spring season.

The team brings back several starters from last season, including Eschenberg, outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon, setter Whitney Bower and libero Madi Allen. The squad is further strengthened by the return of middle blocker Heather Gneiting from her mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the transfer of opposite hitter Kenzie Koerber from the University of Utah.

Ballard-Nixon put up 14 kills in the season opener against Southern Utah on Aug. 27. Koerber led the way against Long Island later that same day, totaling nine kills and nine digs to impact both sides of the game.

Kate Grimmer, left, and Kennedy Eschenberg, right, go up for a block against Long Island on Aug. 27 in the Smith Fieldhouse. (Dallin Wilks)

The team took a balanced approach against UNLV on Aug. 28 with four players putting up seven or more kills. Erin Livingston had nine, Eschenberg and Gneiting had eight each and Koerber had seven.

“One thing that makes our team so special is how balanced we are at every position,” Eschenberg said. “We had great passing tonight, and none of us can hit effectively if we don’t have good passing, and Whitney (Bower) put up great sets.”

Bower averaged 30 assists over the three matches, helping spread the ball equally and with ease to the Cougars’ several capable offensive players.

Next up, the Cougars host the BYU Invitational Sep. 2-4, where they will take on Weber State, Dixie State and Michigan State at home in the Smith Fieldhouse.

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