PROVO, Utah — Erin Livingston notched a team-best 10 eliminations and helped No. 15 BYU Women’s Volleyball close its non-conference roster with a 3-0 victory (25-16, 25-15, 25-20) over Utah Valley at Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
“I loved the way we prepared and played this week,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “I liked the way we performed tonight and at Utah on Thursday. It was great to bounce back from those tough road games last week.
Livingston’s .381 hitting performance was complemented by nine kills and a .562 clip from Eden Bower. Heather Gneiting continued to show her dynamic game registering eight kills to go along with three assists and a solo block. Whitney Bower powered the Cougar offense with 30 assists and five kills.
Kate Grimmer led the team with 11 digs for the game, while Whitney Bower, Aria McComber and Kelsey Knudsen threw 23 digs combined. As a team, BYU recorded 43 kills to UVU’s 32. The Cougars hit .316, while holding the Wolverines at .163.
BYU controlled the game from start to finish, allowing Olmstead to play with a wide variety of personnel. Freshmen Hannah Billeter and Briley Decker saw their first career action for the Cougars on Saturday night. Rookie Kate Prior also got in on the action, recording an assist kill and block.
The Cougars and Wolverines went back and forth early in Set 1, until two blocks from Gneiting and two aces from Alyssa Montoya helped the BYU Spring lose on an 8-0 run. A kill by Whitney Llarenas extended BYU’s lead to 10 at 18-8. Whitney Bower stacked it as she dropped the ball over the net for her second kill of the night and pushed the Cougars lead to a 19-9 high.
In a key crowd-pleasing streak, Bower and Knudsen played plumbers, digging in UVU attacks and clearing the way for an Elyse Stowell kill that gave the Cougars a 20-11 advantage. Kate Grimmer hammered the ball down the line with a fierce kill that put the set at 25-16 in favor of the Cougars. BYU set the tone early with 14 kills, three aces and just one service error in the opening set.
The Cougars led the entirety of Set 2 after a relentless barrage of casualties gave them eight unanswered runs. Livingston left his mark on the match in the opening moments of the second set by scoring four of the team’s top eight.
The BYU defense came out strong with combination blocks from Llarenas and Grimmer as well as Gneiting and Eden Bower. Moments later, Billeter walked in and helped kill Whitney Bower. Llarenas followed that play when she found herself and sent the ball crashing into the UVU side for a 20-11 lead.
The Bower sisters ended the set with back-to-back eliminations as BYU took a 25-15 victory. As a team, BYU combined 14 kills on just three errors, hitting .333 with six blocks in the second set.
The Cougars held off a spirited third set from the Wolverines. UVU would cut BYU’s lead to two at 9-7 and 12-10 before making a final run that cut Cougar’s lead to 21-18. Four BYU errors kept the Wolverines close.
The Cougars overcame errors with kills from Whitney Bower, Gneiting and Stowell. Eden Bower would slam the door on the board with two straight kills that gave BYU the 25-20 win. The third set saw BYU record 15 kills against three errors and hit a game-high .353.
BYU opens West Coast Conference play with two home games next week. The Cougars host Loyola Marymount on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. MDT, then take on No. 22 Pepperdine at 1 p.m. on Sept. 24 at Smith Fieldhouse. Both games can be watched live on the BYUtv/BYUtv app.