No. 12 BYU ‘kills’ match against Utah in four sets

No. 12 BYU defeated Utah in four sets at the Smith Fieldhouse with a record-breaking attendance of 5,528 fans. The Cougars continued their winning streak against the Utes to four, and improved their record to 9-1 to start the season. 

Senior outside hitter Erin Livingston led the way with 16 kills, 3 blocks, and a hitting percentage of .364; freshman Claire Little had with 14 kills, two blocks and a .393 hit %; and sophomore Kate Prior recorded 10 kills, five blocks and a hit% of .350. 

Set 1

The set started with a kill by Utah’s Emrie Satuala, but it became a head-to-head match. BYU gained momentum with senior Whitney Bower serving a 6-0 scoring run. Kate Prior dominated this set with five kills, .714 hit %, eight total assists and seven points as the Cougars won 25-13. 

Set 2

BYU continued their stride with Livingston starting the set with two kills and Hannah Billeter serving two aces in a row. However, the Cougars lost their steam while Utah put pressure on the service line and won those net plays. This wild set had ten ties and three lead changes. 

Utah was up 23-21, but a kill by Livingston and a block by Little and Mia Lee tied the set 23-23. Despite their efforts, Utah won the set 25-23 after a kill by Rianne Vos and an attack error by Livingston. 

Set 3

BYU started with a 4-0 run and made it to 8-2 when Utah started catching up. The Utes consistently stayed 2-4 points throughout the set. The Cougars’ precision was off as they missed opportunities which the Utes took advantage of. The first tie of the set was 17-17 when coach Heather Olmstead called a timeout. 

Kenzie Dahle said that during the huddle Olmstead encouraged the players to “take a breath point by point and settle into the game.” 

Kate Prior built the team’s momentum with a kill followed by an attack error by Utah’s Rainne Vos. Additionally, Little had two kills after a pancake dig from Brielle Miller leading the Cougars to a 4-0 run. 

BYU won the set 25-19.

Set 4

BYU got off to an early start to the set with Livingston getting four kills to help BYU go 6-1. 

“I was able to use my strength down the line and hit different shots,” Livingston said.

BYU took an early lead of 9-1 when Livingston secured another kill totaling her count to five kills that set. 

With the score 15-4, the Utes had a three-point run to make it 15-7, but this didn’t stop the Cougars. 

The match ended at match point number four with a kill by Little. BYU won the set 25-16. 

The Cougars are set to play at Utah Valley University Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and at Utah State in Logan on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. The last time the Cougars beat Utah, UVU, and Utah State in the same season was 2022. 

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