Winning Culture: BYU remaining dominant despite new conference and opponents

No. 10 BYU women’s volleyball is approaching the halfway mark of its inaugural season in the Big 12 and has been nothing short of great up to this point.

The Cougars are currently 14-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play (fifth in conference standings), while maintaining a perfect 6-0 record at home. Collectively, they have put together a seamless lineup top to bottom and continually have record-breaking games by not just one, but multiple players.

BYU dropped one spot in the AVCA poll this week. Overall, BYU has been ranked in the Top 25 for 158 polls and 149 consecutive weeks in the top 18.

To put it lightly, this team is a force to be reckoned with.

Without a doubt, veteran outside hitter Erin Livingston, has been a driving force of the team, consistently doing her part and getting the job done for BYU when it matters most. Livingston recently put up a career tying 22 kills in a game against Oklahoma on a .724 clip. 

She is currently averaging 3.97 kills per set, putting her 41st in the country. On top of that, Livingston ranks third in the Big 12 in total kills and total points with 230 and 258 respectively. 

Livingston recently earned her second conference award of the year and her career with a Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honor. It is only fitting with how automatic she has been up to this point. 

Her most prominent milestone of the season thus far, was hitting the 1,000-kill mark, becoming the 23rd player to do so. And she is not slowing down. Livingston sits at 1,058 kills in her career and still has a good number of games left to play. 

Another difference-maker for the Cougars as of late is senior setter, Whitney Bower. Bower recently became BYU’s all-time rally scoring era career assist leader, surpassing Lauren Richards Evans. She sits at 4,112 total assists and counting.

Bower has been a constant for BYU and made a huge difference in recent matches. It is no surprise that she was on the Preseason All-Big 12 list ahead of the 2023 season.

Aside from individual performances, collectively the Cougars have been able to get it done top to bottom. Defensively, BYU has been able to showcase its blocking ability and make a statement on both sides of the ball. Middle Blockers like Mia Lee, Whitney Llarenas-McEwan, and Kate Prior are the driving force behind BYU’s consistent defensive success.

BYU ranks No. 11 nationally in team blocks and No. 14 in opponent hitting percentage at .152 (first in the Big 12). Adding to that, the Cougars are ranked in the top 30 in total blocks with 167. It is no question that BYU can produce on both end of the spectrum. They truly are elite from top to bottom. 

Coach Heather Olmstead has been nothing but successful in her tenure at BYU so far, and this season is no different. With a record of 227-32 (.876), she becomes one of three BYU coaches found on NCAA’s winningest coaches list alongside Shawn Olmstead, now the BYU Men’s Volleyball coach, and the well-known Elaine Michaelis.

 The Cougars are also currently placed No. 3 on NCAA’s all-time wins list with 1,376, trailing UCLA (1,379) and Nebraska (1,407).

It is safe to say that BYU women’s volleyball truly emulates winning culture and has done so for a very long time. The Cougars are looking to finish out their first Big 12 season strong and have all the talent and ability to make a major impact in the postseason. 

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