TUCSON, Ariz. - Jennifer Hamson led No. 12 BYU women's volleyball to a four-set (22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23) thriller on the road against host Arizona to advance to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament for the third-consecutive season.
"First and foremost, hats off to Arizona for a great tournament," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "They were a great host and had a great season. They gave us all we could handle there. It was an outstanding match."
The win gives Olmstead his 100th win coaching the Cougars.
Hamson paced the Cougars with 19 kills in addition to 14 digs and four blocks. Whitney Young led BYU's block, adding a team-high seven, while Ciara Parker contributed 26 digs. Alohi Robins-Hardy directed the squad, collecting 39 assists to go with 15 digs in the win. Additionally, Alexa Gray and Tambre Nobles had double-digit kills with 15 and 12, respectively. Nobles also had 14 digs for a double-double.
BYU (27-4) and Arizona (24-10) traded points to begin the first set, with a Tia Withers Welling service ace giving the Cougars a 3-2 edge. The two teams stayed competitive, keeping within a point of each other from the 4-2 mark until a pair of BYU attack errors gave the Wildcats a 13-11 edge. Arizona led by as many as four at 16-12 before the Cougars scored a trio of points to bring them back within one at 16-15, forcing a Wildcat timeout.
BYU was able to tie the score at 20-all after a pair of blocks from Young, but Arizona's Madi Kingdon followed with three-consecutive kills to put her team ahead 23-20. The Cougars battled back from there but ultimately fell short 25-22 on a kill.
A trio of quick Wildcat errors brought BYU ahead early with a 4-2 advantage to start the second set. With the Cougars ahead by three at 8-5, Arizona scored three straight to tie the set back up at 8-8. The Wildcats took their first lead of the set at 14-13 following a kill from Kingdon. The teams stayed within a point of each other again with a Young and Hamson block puting BYU back up 18-17, forcing an Arizona timeout. A 10-2 Cougar run ensued to bring up set point at 24-18, and a Hamson kill ended the set 25-20 to tie the score heading into the break.
Nobles got things going for BYU in the third set with consecutive kills, giving her team the 2-0 edge. A Gray kill extended the Cougars' lead to five at 8-3, but the Wildcats stayed in the match with a 6-2 run to come back within one at 11-10. With the score tied at 12 apiece, BYU went on a 5-1 rally of its own to go back up by four at 17-13, forcing Arizona to use its second timeout of the set. Up by five at 18-13, the Wildcats were able to use a 7-2 run to tie the score back up at 20. The score went back-and-forth with a Cougar attack error tying things back up at 23. A Hamson kill gave BYU set point and an Amy Boswell kill ended the close set 25-23 in the Cougars' favor.
Nobles again got things started in the fourth set with a kill for BYU. The score remained neck-to-neck until an Arizona attack error put the Cougars up by two at 7-5. The Wildcats took their first lead of the set at 11-9 following a 4-1 run that was capped off with a block. Another rally, this time 5-2, extended Arizona's fourth-set lead to five at 16-11. BYU had trouble stopping the Wildcats' offense as it trailed 19-13, but the Cougars scored five straight, including a Gray kill, to come back within one at 19-18. Arizona stayed ahead at 23-20 after a short 3-1 rally, but BYU scored four points to give it set point and an attack error gave the Cougars a four-set win to complete the comeback at 25-23.
The Cougars will hit the road again next week when they take on No. 6-seed Florida State on Dec. 12 at the University of Washington.