The BYU women's volleyball team beat LMU in five sets (25-22, 25-20, 21-25, 22-25, 15-7) Tuesday night in its first home West Coast Conference match of the season.
"I thought we were really resilient tonight," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "We showed a lot of fight and our focus in the fifth set was the difference."
The fifth set remained close through a 6-6 tie until freshman Whitney Bower took over from the service line, leading BYU to an 8-0 run. An ace was followed by four-straight attack errors by LMU, including two BYU blocks, followed by a kill by Kennedy Eschenberg and another ace from Bower. The freshman setter then finished things off on a kill helped by an LMU block error to give BYU the set, 15-7, and the match.
It was a bit of revenge for the Cougars. Last season, LMU won in Los Angeles to end BYU's undefeated season in the final match of the West Coast Conference season.
Sophomore Heather Gneiting recorded 12 kills, one shy of her career high, hitting .632 with no errors while adding four blocks for BYU (12-2, 3-0 WCC). Eschenberg totaled seven kills and a season-high nine blocks while senior McKenna Miller led all Cougars with 14 kills.
Sophomore Madelyn Robinson had 11 kills and freshman Kate Grimmer added 10 while Bower recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 44 assists and 10 digs to go with a career-high five kills and four aces.
Both teams traded points back and forth in Set 1 until, with the score tied at three, the Cougars went on a 4-0 run and forced LMU to call timeout. The Lions fought back, bringing the score within one at 10-9 behind back-to-back kills. BYU went up again by as many as four before earning the 25-22 win on a Miller kill, adding to the Cougars' .533 hitting percentage in the set.The second set was tight until a kill by Grimmer, a set error by LMU and a dump kill from Bower gave BYU a little bit of breathing room at 16-12. The Cougars had seven blocks in the second set alone, including five involving Eschenberg, holding the Lions to an .062 hitting mark. Back-to-back kills from Grimmer close out the set, 25-20.
LMU built an early 8-3 lead in Set 3. BYU cut the Lions' lead to 12-9 before LMU went on a 3-0 run, giving them their largest advantage of the night at 15-9. The Cougars brought the score to within one at 18-17 after a Tayler Tausinga ace and tied the set at 20-20, but LMU went on a 5-1 run and took the set, 25-21.
LMU took a 2-0 lead in Set 4 and held it until the Cougars came back to take an 8-7 lead on back-to-back Lion attack errors. After the Cougars built a 20-17 advantage on two-straight aces from Bower, LMU chipped away to eventually tie things late at 21-21. A Grimmer kill brought BYU within one at 23-22, but two final kills forced a fifth set as LMU won, 25-22.
BYU now travels to California for back-to-back road games this week, first at Pacific on Thursday, Oct. 3. at 7 p.m. PDT then at Saint Mary's on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m. PDT.