Taylen Ballard-Nixon BYU wvb vs. Boise State

BYU's Taylen Ballard-Nixon (1) celebrates a point in the Cougars' 3-0 sweep of Boise State in the Nike Invitational at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

The No. 9 BYU women’s volleyball team opened the 2019 season with a 25-13, 25-21, 25-17 sweep of Boise State at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday at the Nike Invitational.

Senior McKenna Miller led the Cougars (1-0) with 13 kills and hit .281 and freshman setter Whitney Bower, making her first career start, had five of her team’s nine service aces and 31 assists.

Bower broke open a close first set with back-to-back aces to key a 6-0 run and a 22-12 lead. The Cougars held Boise State to -.172 hitting in the first set and had six blocks, with four block assists coming from sophomore middle Heather Gnieting.

BYU led Set 2 17-10 but Boise State cut that lead to 20-17. Freshman Kate Grimmer contributed a big kill out of system for a 23-19 Cougar led, and Taylen Ballard-Nixon knocked down a kill on a BSU overpass for the 25-21 win.

Bower went back-to-back with service aces again in Set 3, which BYU led 6-0 to start and won going away when Kennedy Eschenberg blasted a kill at second match point.

Mary Lake led all players with 17 digs. Eschenberg contributed nine kills and four block assists. Grimmer added seven kills and six block assists for the Cougars, who are slated to play crosstown rival Utah Valley Friday evening.

In the first match of the tournament, No. 16 Marquette powered past Utah Valley 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-22), led by 6-foot-5 All-Big East outside hitter Allie Barber, who hit .444 and had 14 kills. Former Pleasant Grove standout Kazna Tarawhiti paced UVU with 13 kills and 10 digs.

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

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