The last time the Cougars lost a conference match at home was November 17th, 2011. The surprise team that beat them was the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and the Cougars were not about to let it happen again. Since that fateful day the Cougars have only lost one home match and a total of 10 sets. BYU came into the match holding a 9-2 record and an #11 ranking. The six sets they have lost this year have all come against top 10 teams and they wanted to keep the streak alive. With a quick three set match the Cougars opened up their conference play with yet another sweep.
With an upset on their mind the Bulldogs started off strong and looked to push the Cougars to their limits. The defense of Gonzaga proved to be tough as they executed perfect blocks and digs early in the game, leading to a 10-5 lead. BYU quickly called a timeout in order to regroup, and in the process took away the momentum. After tying up the set at 11 the two teams battled back and forth and the Cougars took a three point lead at 19-16. Gonzaga would once again swing the momentum as they scored four straight points that started with a Cougar serving error. After allowing the Bulldogs a two point lead the Cougars again took a time out and promptly finished with a 5-0 run to finish the first set 25-22.
Gonzaga was intent on making the match competitive as they played the Cougars blow for blow until the Cougars were finally able to take an 8-6 lead. Looking a little rattled the Bulldogs gave up three straight points and an 11-6 lead. Keeping the deficit at five the Bulldogs continued to fight hard and their defense kept them in the match. BYU would continue to put on the pressure as they took a nine point lead at 20-11 before a bad out of bounds call gave Gonzaga hope. BYU would dig in and after an incredible rally by both sides, the Cougars found themselves at set point and shortly after, a 25-17 2nd set win.
After falling in the first two sets it appeared that the Bulldogs were going to fold early in the set as they had no answer for the talented Cougars. After keeping it close until 5-3 the Bulldogs were out manned on a beautiful tap shot by Jennifer Hamson and the 8-3 lead seemed to break the Bulldogs. Continuous errors on attacks and blocks led to the Bulldogs unravelling and a quick 24-13 match point. The final point of the match couldn't have been more fitting as Whitney Young and Camry Godfrey Willardson went up on a Gonzaga attack and blocked it back into the Bulldogs, ending the set and the match.
BYU ended the match with a .255 hitting percentage compared to the Bulldogs .066, but the difference was the 16 blocks for the Cougars that pulled the air out of the visitors. Hamson led the Cougars as she ended with seven blocks while adding four digs, 10 kills and a .304 hitting percentage. Alexa Gray led the team in kills with 11 and added four blocks. Adding to the final block, Young totaled eight blocks and Godfrey Willardson ended with 30 assists.
BYU will next play on Saturday the 27th at 1 pm MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse. The game will again be on BYUtv and BYU radio.