Career highs lead No. 17 BYU women’s volleyball to sweep Gonzaga 3-0

After a thrilling 3-set match against Gonzaga, multiple Cougars reach career highs at the Smith Fieldhouse Thursday night. 

The night started off with a new starter on the court. Abby Taylor took the floor as the starting setter for BYU since Whitney Bower was out for an injury. This was a career first for Taylor since transferring to BYU from Wyoming. 

In the first set, the Cougars came out swinging with an impressive win of 25-10. The match started with a kill by Erin Livingston. This first kill was only the beginning for Livingston as she finished out the set with a career-high hitting percentage of .833. 

Fear entered the fieldhouse as Heather Gneighting left the court during the first set with what seemed to be a slight injury, but this fear was quickly reversed as Gneighting returned for the second set. Not only was Gneighting back for the second set, but she also got the first kill of the set. 

With this momentum, BYU went on a 4-0 scoring run against the Bulldogs. The first ace of the night was received by Taylor which kept the Cougar’s lead strong. Taylor continued throughout the match to receive career highs in both assists at 33 and kills at 2. 

“Abby did a great job distributing the ball and offensive hit really well,” said Coach Heather Olmstead. “She was calm and did her job.”

The third set did not disappoint as the Bulldogs refused to give anything less than a fight. With 12 tied scores and 6 lead changes, Cougar Nation was on the edge of their seats. Gonzaga took a major lead of 15-12 right before a timeout. 

BYU took this timeout to regroup and came back strong to finish out the set. After 4 more ties, BYU ran away when Livingston took her 21st kill of the night, resulting in a 2-point lead for the Cougars. Livingston finished with a career-high of 22 kills for the night. 

“I fed off of my teammates… they just bring so much energy and fight,” Livingston said as she reflected on her motivation for a successful night. 

However, just before the end of the set, an ankle injury took Sophia Callahan out of the game right before the game point. BYU did not let this setback cloud their minds as a final kill by Llarenas secured the set 25-21.

Injuries are a major part of any sport, but the key to being successful is how a team can counterbalance these setbacks in order to stay on top. With Bowers temporarily out and potentially Callahan, Olmstead looks forward to other teammates taking new roles and doing what they can to help the team.

“It’s a great team sport and everyone has a chance to step up and play a part in the team’s success,” stated Olmstead.

The Cougars will face Portland next on Saturday at 1 pm in the Smith Fieldhouse.

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