BYU vs. Portland wvb Whitney Bower dive

BYU freshman setter Whitney Bower lays out to dig a ball against Portland in the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

No. 13 BYU women's volleyball swept Portland (25-15, 25-14, 25-17) behind exceptional team defense at the Smith Fieldhouse in a conference matchup on Thursday.

The Cougars held the Pilots to a .071 hitting percentage and out-blocked them 10-1. BYU also held the advantage in kills 43-17 and only committed four attack errors to Portland's 20. The Cougars' four attack errors tied for the third-fewest all-time in program history. Junior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon led the way for the Cougars, posting 11 kills on a .321 hitting percentage to go with three blocks, two solo. McKenna Miller also contributed nine kills, three blocks, three digs and an ace.

"Whitney (Bower) did a great job distributing the offense and getting a lot of hitter involved," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "We took smart swings and our serving put us in good spots to block well."

Both teams struggled to gain an advantage in the early going and were tied at 10 points apiece in Set 1. BYU took its first lead of the night and proceeded to go on a 7-0 run to make the score 17-10. Five kills from Ballard-Nixon provided the Cougars a spark offensively. BYU's defense was excellent as well, as it held Portland's attack to a .083 hitting percentage, winning the set 25-15.

BYU and Portland battled at the beginning of the second set before the Cougars went on a 10-1 run to go up 17-6. BYU's offense featured a balanced attack as six different players recorded at least one kill in the set. Three aces from BYU helped to set the tone as well. The Cougars ended the set with a stellar .583 hitting percentage, the second-highest percentage in a set this season, as they took the contest, 25-14.

BYU got out to a quick lead in the third set, going up 4-0 behind two kills from Heather Gneiting. The Cougars' offense went into a groove, taking a 14-7 lead. Miller provided two key blocks at the end of the set to put the Pilots away, 25-17.

The Cougars return to action on Saturday, Nov. 23, at home against conference foe Gonzaga at 1 p.m. MST. The match will be broadcast on BYUtv.

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

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