PROVO — The No. 12-seeded BYU women’s volleyball team took down New Mexico State in straight sets (25-8, 25-17, 25-14) to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars used a big size advantage and precise execution to completely overwhelm the Aggies from start to finish. Junior Jen Hamson led the way with a game-high 13 kills and seven blocks, with senior Nicole Warner adding five and seven, respectively.
BYU coach Shawn Olmstead directed his girls beforehand to start off fast and not let up. They responded in impressive fashion.
“They came out exactly the way we wanted to,” Olmstead said. “Our No. 1 key tonight was to keep the pressure on them. I’m really pleased with them staying the course because I think (New Mexico State) is a good team who was on a nice little roll there.”
To say the Cougars jumped on the Aggies early may be an understatement considering their 12-2 start out of the gate. They went on to dominate the first set using a .545 hitting percentage to New Mexico State’s -.074 to take it 25-8.
The Aggies settled down a bit and showed some fight early in the second before the Cougars came roaring back to win 25-17. BYU’s imposing front threw off New Mexico State’s attack and again led to a negative hitting percentage from the Aggies.
“It was tough for (New Mexico State) to get by that block,” Olmstead said. “I was impressed with some of our digs behind us, but when we block so well, like we have all year, sometimes our defenders get caught away with what is going on at the net. But I thought tonight they did really well overall.”
The Cougars kept it rolling in the third and final set — closing out the Aggies 25-14. Hamson headlined the stats, as she has all year, but several others stepped up, including freshman Kimberly Dahl, who finished with eight kills and three blocks. Fellow freshman Alexa Gray finished with six kills.
“Overall that freshman group has done a tremendous job,” Olmstead said. “I believe they’re just as important to this team as (our leaders.)”
After the match BYU was riding high, but is mindful of the importance of staying grounded for Saturday’s second-round matchup against Oklahoma.
“We're fired up and excited for the next match," Warner said. "We can only get better though. ... We're playing well right now, but we need to get better tomorrow."
The Cougars will square off against the Sooners at 7 p.m. inside the Smith Fieldhouse. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16 held in Omaha, Neb. next weekend.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company