The only thing scarier than the Halloween costumes at Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday was BYU’s domination of Saint Mary’s.
Scary for the Gaels and future opponents, anyway.
The 11th-ranked Cougars were quite fearsome against Saint Mary’s, outplaying the visitors in every category in a quick 3-0 (25-15, 25-11, 25-13) victory in front of 2,331 fans on a sugar high from an excess of Halloween candy.
So, to the numbers: BYU hit .368 for the match and held Saint Mary’s to -.150. The Cougars logged 10 blocks to the Gaels two, outdug Saint Mary’s 33-24 and sided out at a 77.5 percent clip to the Gaels 39.7.
Senior outside hitter McKenna Miller hit .632 with 12 kills and zero errors on 19 swings. Sophomore middle Heather Gneiting was spectacular, hitting .727 (nine kills and one error on 11 swings) and added five block assists. In other words, the Cougars played really, really well.
“It was a really consistent match for us,” Miller said. “I loved our serve and pass game. We were taking really good, high swings and Saint Mary’s is one of the better blocking teams in our conference. I don’t think their block really stopped us that much. Overall, it was a really good better-at-everything volleyball game.”
BYU — which has spent 100 consecutive weeks ranked in Top 25 — took control in Set 1 with Mary Lake at the service line and Gneiting dominating at the net. A 9-1 run — fueled by five kills from Gneiting — pushed the Cougar lead from 13-11 to 22-12. At second set point, Miller powered through the block for a 25-15 win.
Gneiting contributed five kills in six swings with just one error and added two block assists and two digs in the first set.
BYU led Set 2 9-4 after Miller and Kennedy Eschenberg teamed up for a block and Saint Mary’s never challenged after that. Miller got a great pass from Madi Robinson for an out of system kill and an 11-5 advantage as the lead grew. Bower’s ace made it 23-11 and Miller blasted a kill for set point. An error on the Gaels ended it at 25-11. BYU hit .442 in Set 2 and held Saint Mary’s to .000 (6 kills, 6 errors, 26 swings).
It was more of the same in Set 3, with BYU jumping out to a 10-3 lead and pushing that advantage to 16-4 after an Eschenberg block. Miller — working on her night with no hitting errors — had one of her attacks ruled out in the third set but a challenge from head coach Heather Olmstead brought on a video review that reversed that call. Whitney Llarenas came off the bench and had a kill to reach match point and another Saint Mary’s error finished things off at 25-12.
“I really liked our energy and our serving, the way we came out in the match serving aggressively,” Olmstead said. “We were really putting balls on them. I thought we took really high, smart swings and really gave their block some problems. I liked the way Whitney spreading the offense around, getting a lot of hitters involved. She was putting up nice, hittable balls.
“Our coverage on their block touches was good and our defensive positioning was good. We were playing really scrappy defense and not letting balls hit the floor. It’s discouraging for other teams when we don’t let them get easy kills or even nice swings. I thought we really focused on that and did a good job.”
BYU (19-3 overall, 10-1 WCC) has another WCC home match against Pacific on Saturday afternoon.