BYU senior McKenna Miller wvb

BYU senior McKenna Miller

WICHITA, Kan. – Behind 17 kills, four blocks and three aces from senior McKenna Miller, the No. 13 BYU women’s volleyball team defeated Wichita State 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-20) on Thursday.

Miller’s 17 kills were a season high as four Cougars finished with double-digit kill totals, including junior Kennedy Eschenberg’s career-high 13 on a .476 hitting percentage.

Freshman Whitney Bower totaled 51 assists and a team-high 16 digs for BYU (6-1) while sophomore Heather Gneiting added 11 kills and seven blocks.

"Our first road match was a tough battle just like we thought it would be," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead. "I liked the way we kept our focus after the first set and kept grinding. McKenna, Heather and Kennedy took some big time swings at crucial times."

BYU held Wichita State (3-4) to .111 hitting on the night, marking the fifth time in seven matches this season the Cougars have forced an opponent to hit .150 or less.

The Cougars spread out the offense in Set 1 and capitalized on Shocker errors to take a 14-8 lead. But Wichita State then scored five unanswered to cut the lead to 14-13. From there the two teams battled with BYU taking a 23-22 lead until Wichita State closed out the match 25-22 off a BYU service error, an ace, and a Cougar attack error.

Miller had five kills, two blocks and an ace in Set 2 to help BYU bounce back with a 25-16 win. Up 10-8, a block by Gneiting and Miller and three kills by Miller gave BYU a 14-9 lead. The Cougars extended their lead to as many as seven at 22-15 before a block by Eschenberg and freshman Kate Grimmer finished off the set.

BYU took an early 11-5 lead after an ace by freshman Abbey Dayton and a kill by Gneiting. Later in the set, Grimmer had three of her seven kills in quick succession to help BYU pull away midway through the set, with an Eschenberg kill giving BYU a 20-11 margin. Another Eschenberg kill finished off the set, 25-19.

The final set was close until BYU went on a 5-1 run behind kills from Grimmer, Gneiting and sophomore Madelyn Robinson. The Shockers closed the lead to two at 22-20, but this time BYU close the door, scoring three consecutive points on a Robinson kill, Gneiting and Grimmer block and a final ace by senior Mary Lake to end the match.

BYU will next face No. 3 Texas on Friday, Sept. 13, at 3:30 p.m. MT in a rematch of last year's Elite Eight contest that saw the Cougars sweep the Longhorns in Provo.

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

Darnell Dickson, who has been covering sports in Utah since 1989 (with a detour to Nebraska for three years somewhere in there), is currently the BYU football columnist and BYU men’s basketball beat writer.

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