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Women’s Volleyball: Utah Upsets #9 BYU in five sets

BYU suffers their first loss of the season, drops record to 9-1.

NCAA Volleyball: Women's Volleyball Championship-BYU vs Penn State Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

BYU hosted Utah at the Smith Field House Thursday night and suffered another gut-wrenching loss at the hands of the Utes.

The ninth ranked Cougars started off slow and looked sloppy losing the first two sets 27-25 and 25-20. BYU found themselves in a huge hole as they headed to the locker room for their mid-match break.

Needing to win three straight sets, the Cougars showed remarkable resolve and mounted a spirited comeback to nab the third set 25-23.

Check out this incredible kill by Whitney Howard that rocked an unprepared Utah player and brought the sold-out crowd to their feet:

With the crowd on their side, the Cougars looked downright dominate in the fourth set, winning it 25-17. At one point they scored 9 straight points and appeared to have taken back all of the momentum headed into the 5th and final set.

The final set was an all-out battle with BYU falling behind early before eventually fighting back to take a 13-11 lead. But Utah executed when it mattered most, scoring four straight points to win the set and match. Adora Anae carried the Utes all game long and she tallied the final three points to end BYU’s chances of pulling off the comeback. Anae set a program record with 31 kills against the Cougars. Check out the box score here.

BYU was 55-1 (dating back to 2012) at the Smith Field House before tonights match-up. And came into the rivalry game having won five straight contests; on top of being undefeated on the season (9-0).

The good news for the women’s volleyball team is that they won’t have to dwell on this loss. They will face California State University on Friday (9/16) and UNLV on Saturday (9/17) at home in the Smith Field House. And despite the loss to Utah they’ve enjoyed an amazing start to the 2016 season. A start which included a gutsy win over #11 ranked Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.

Few predicted that BYU would start off so well as they’ve had to replace Alexa Gray, (the school’s all-time leader in kills) and Ciara Parker (the schools all-time leader in digs). The Cougars have turned to a couple of freshman to fill their shoes and they have been fantastic. Freshman outside hitter McKenna Miller currently leads the team in kills with 168, while fellow freshman, Mary Lake is leading the team in digs with 369.