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No. 4 BYU women’s volleyball finishes WCC season unbeaten

By Daily Herald - | Nov 23, 2021

The BYU women's volleyball team celebrates a point in a match at San Diego on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. (BYU Courtesy Photo)

No. 4 BYU women’s volleyball overcame its final West Coast Conference opponent, San Diego, in a 3-1 win (25-10, 14-25, 25-21, 25-22) on Tuesday, securing for the Cougars an undefeated 18-0 record in the WCC to go along with their already-clinched conference championship.

This is the first time since 1993 that BYU has won all 18 regular season conference matches. This stands as BYU’s 20th straight win, giving the team a 28-1 overall season record.

In the Jenny Craig Pavilion, the Cougars racked up 48 kills and a .257 hitting percentage. San Diego battled back with a close 42 kills, hitting .190.

Three players boasted 13 kills for the night, including graduate opposite hitter Kenzie Koerber. These kills plus 14 digs earned Koerber her seventh double-double of the season. She shared the top of the kill leaderboard with San Diego’s Grace Frohling and Kylie Pries.

Defensively, the Cougars tallied 50 digs and four total blocks. While the Toreros only gathered 39 digs, they out-blocked BYU, 6-4.

In Set 1, three errors by the Toreros and two kills and an ace by sophomore middle blocker Heather Gneiting pushed BYU to a 12-5 lead.

BYU’s momentum continued as it strung together a 6-0 run, including three combined kills by Koerber and graduate middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg. From there, the teams took turns trading kills until BYU held a 20-9 lead.

Five more errors by San Diego allowed BYU to take the set win at 25-10. The Cougars dominated offensively, hitting a .474 clip compared to the Toreros’ -.065.

San Diego started Set 2 with a 7-0 run, thanks to Katie Lukes tacking on three kills and three aces. Three BYU attack errors, paired with three kills by the Toreros, extended San Diego’s lead to 13-1.

From there, Koerber put up two aces and another kill. Lukes followed up with her seventh and eighth kill of the night. She followed this with two attack errors, giving BYU a chance to catch up. Kills from Koerber and junior setter Whitney Bower brought the score to 20-11.

Three errors by BYU brought the score to set point at 24-12. Gneiting and sophomore outside hitter Erin Livingston laid down kills, attempting to close the gap. However, San Diego hit its 14th kill of the set, doubling its kill count from set one. This secured the Toreros a win at 25-14.

The Cougars took an early 9-3 lead in Set 3. The Toreros slowly inched closer to the Cougars, but kills by Livingston and freshman outside hitter Sophia Callahan maintained BYU’s slight lead at 16-10. This smaller gap motivated San Diego as they managed a 3-0 run. Another Livingston kill cut its run short.

A mix of errors and kills reduced BYU’s lead to just 20-18. This set fire to Callahan and Gneiting, each notching an opportune kill. A solo block by Eschenberg finished the tight set at 25-21.

In Set 4, the Cougars got out to a 15-10 lead. Kills by four different Cougars, including three by Callahan alone, opened the gap to 22-17. San Diego’s Kylie Pries followed with three kills, holding BYU at match point for five straight points. In the end, Livingston tallied one more kill to secure BYU its third set-win at 25-22.

Up next, the Cougars will await their seed for the NCAA Tournament. This will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 28, at 8:30 p.m. ET during the 2021 DI Women’s Volleyball Selection Show on ESPNU. Once announced, the first and second round will commence Dec. 2-4.

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