PROVO — If you want to take the opportunity to see the No. 1-ranked BYU women’s volleyball team (10-0) perform this season it would be advisable to arrive on time. Arriving fashionably late may preempt one from seeing almost the entire match, should the Cougars continue performing like they did against visiting Pacific on Thursday.
The Cougars overwhelmed the Waves in three straight sets (25-12, 25-20, 25-14) in a match that lasted barely over one hour in both teams’ West Coast Conference opener.
As could easily be suspected, everything was clicking for a team that looked very much the equal of its national ranking from start to finish on Thursday.
"We just did a really good job at just focusing on us and what we wanted to do, and staying assertive with those things," said BYU senior outside hitter Roni Jones-Perry. "A lot of times it’s easy to let go of that, depending on who is on the other side of the net, so I think we did a really good job of just focusing on us."
Whatever the focus was, it worked.
For Jones-Perry, she contributed a team-high 13 kills on just 17 attempts, with no hitting errors. McKenna Miller, playing also at outside hitter almost proved Jones-Perry’s equal, with her 11 kills on just 16 swings.
"Offensively we were just really good," said BYU coach Heather Olmstead. "McKenna and Roni were spectacular with no errors between the both of them. Our middles were scoring, so offensively I think we did a good job of passing…Offensively we were hard to stop."
Leading the charge at middle blocker were sophomore Kennedy Eschenberg and freshman Heather Gneiting, with the two of them combining for 13 kills on 23 attempts, helping out the outside attempts considerably.
"It’s huge, because if they get a kill, then the (opposing) block has to worry about them," said Jones-Perry of how the middles helped open things up on the outside. "And when (setter) Lyndie (Haddock-Eppich) is up there throwing dumps down, they have to worry about her, too, so just really spreading that offense out really gives (us an advantage.)"
Haddock-Eppich contributed 35 assists and five digs.
Things were relatively tight at the start before the Cougars mounted a 6-0 run early in the first set to lead 11-4 before closing things out with a 7-2 run to take the set 25-12.
About the only difficulty came in the second set, when Pacific managed to hang around, benefitting from some uncharacteristic Cougar mishits late in the set.
The third set followed the form of the first set, for the most part, with Jones-Perry coming alive at the end to close out the match with some impressive well-placed kills.
The brevity of the match led to perhaps some extra recreational time for the Cougars to celebrate a bit, although for Jones-Perry, her plans for the rest of Thursday night included, "More sleep and maybe a longer shower."
The Cougars take the court again on Saturday when hosting Saint Mary’s.