BYU women's volleyball vs. LMU 2021

The BYU women's volleyball team huddles with Coach Heather Olmstead before a match against Loyola Marymount in the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.

MORAGA, Calif. — No. 15 BYU women’s volleyball swept Saint Mary’s (25-17, 25-15, 26-24) on Friday at the University Credit Union Pavilion, remaining in the hunt for this year’s West Coast Conference title.

The win over the Gaels boosted the Cougars ( to a .923 WCC win percentage as they trail just behind No. 20 Pepperdine (.933 WCC win pct.) in the league’s title race with three matches remaining in the regular season for both teams.

Senior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon led the Cougars with a double-double of 13 kills on a .379 clip and a career-high 14 digs. Sophomore setter Whitney Bower contributed a double-double of her own with 34 assists and 10 digs while adding three blocks, two kills and an ace to her stat line.

Middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg continued her efficient offensive play while leading the team defensively. The senior totaled 11 kills on an errorless .611 hitting percentage and led the team with eight blocks for the second match in a row. Freshman outside hitter Erin Livingston also reached double-digit kills with 10.

Freshman libero Madi Allen led the team in digs with 17 while freshman outside hitter Abbey Dayton also reached double-digits with 10 digs.

Offensively, BYU (13-1, 12-1 WCC) had its way with Saint Mary’s (7-9, 7-9 WCC), finishing with 45 kills and a .304 team hitting percentage. The Cougars also proved dominant defensively, holding the Gaels to a .057 hitting percentage while outblocking them 13-4.

BYU dominated the first two sets. Eschenberg had three kills to fuel a 6-2 run that gave the Cougars a 15-14 edge midway through the third set. Two kills by Grimmer helped extend the lead to 18-15. After Saint Mary’s fought back to take a 24-23 lead late, BYU scored three straight points with a kill by Eschenberg, an ace by Bower and a block by Eschenberg and Grimmer to take the set, 26-24.

BYU and Saint Mary’s will play the backend of the two-match series Saturday, March 27 at the University Credit Union Pavilion. The match is set to start at 3 p.m. PDT and will be broadcast on the WCC Network.

Baseball loses in extra innings

For the second straight night, BYU and San Francisco went to extra innings.

The Cougars pushed across a run in the bottom of the tenth inning on Thursday to earn an 8-7 victory but on Friday the Dons came away with a 10-6 win, ending BYU’s five-game winning streak.

The game was tied at 6-6 entering the top of the tenth. USF scored four runs on two hits, including a two-run double by Ryan Davis for a 10-6 lead.

The Cougars went 1-2-3 with two strikeouts against Dons reliever Jesse Barron to end the game.

“We got the three run lead and I thought we sat on it a little bit,” said BYU head coach Mike Littlewood. “We kind of let them chip away at the lead. It almost felt like the reverse of last night when we trying to come back. They did a good job pitching and you have to tip your hat to them for fighting back.”

Mitch McIntyre was 2 for 5 with two doubles for BYU (8-12 overall, 4-1 WCC) and Justin Wilk drove in a pair of runs.

Leadoff hitter Keaschall was 3 for 5 with 3 RBI for San Francisco (6-15, 2-3).

The two teams will meet in the rubber match of the series on Saturday on Miller Field at 1 p.m. MT.

Softball splits with Boise State

Sisters Emilee and Kaylee Erickson both homered as BYU topped Boise State 4-1 on Friday to win the nightcap of a two-game set.

The Cougars pushed across three runs in the fourth, including a two-run homer from Emilee Erickson and a solo shot from Kaylee Erickson.

Autumn Moffat-Korth allowed just three hits and struck out six to get the win for BYU (12-13).

The Broncos won Game 1 by a 6-4 count, holding off a late Cougar rally to preserve the victory.

BYU finishes a busy week with a game against Southern Utah at Gail Miller Field on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. MT.

McWhorter, Riner break school records at Texas Relays

AUSTIN, Texas — Pole vaulter Zach McWhorter and javelin thrower Ashton Riner both broke BYU records in their respective events at the Texas Relays held at the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium.

McWhorter cleared 5.70m/18-8.25 in the men’s pole vault to break the school record by 10 centimeters. Former Cougar and national champion Robison Pratt set the previous record of 5.60m/18-4.5 in 2006.

McWhorter now holds the indoor and outdoor records at BYU, breaking records set by Pratt. The All-American broke the indoor record twice this past indoor season, with the current record of 5.80m/19-0.25 coming in his national runner-up performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

On Thursday, Riner shattered the previous BYU women’s javelin record by more than 4 meters with a throw of 57.31m/188-0. The All-American’s throw ranks as the 25th best performance in collegiate history.

Until this week, Riner had been No. 2 on the BYU Top 10 list with marks of 52.36m/171-9 (2018 Robison Invitational) and 52.91m/173-7 (2021 UNLV Spring Opener). All-American Lindsay Johnson set the previous school record of 53.16m/174-5 in 2002.

Caleb Witsken made his outdoor season debut in the men’s pole vault after taking sixth place at the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 13. The All-American opened this season with a clearance of 5.40m/17-8.5.

In the men’s javelin, Cameron Bates had the best toss of the three BYU athletes competing in the event with a mark of 67.88m/222-8. Michael Whittaker threw a career-best 63.88m/209-7 and Matt Barnes had a 62.44m/204-10.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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