Comeback Win Earns BYU the Hawkeye Challenge Crown

Comeback Win Earns BYU the Hawkeye Challenge Crown

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (Aug. 25, 2007) - The No. 17-ranked BYU women's volleyball team came from behind to defeat Iowa in five games Saturday night to win the Hawkeye Challenge in front of the second-largest crowd to ever see an Iowa volleyball match. After sweeping Marquette Friday, the Cougars defeated the tournament host in front of 1,584 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 21-30, 21-30, 30-19, 30-26, 15-13.

"This was a very significant match for us early in the season," BYU coach Jason Watson said. "Iowa challenged us from the opening serve and forced us to find a way to be better than we started. There's a lot we can learn from this match that will benefit us down the road."

Watson got some strong performances from his players in Saturday's victory. Perhaps the most notable was that of redshirt freshman setter Kiana Rogers, who entered the match in game one and proceeded to record a double-double with 51 assists and 12 digs in her college debut. Senior All-American outside hitter Chelsea Goodman led BYU with match-best totals of 22 kills and 21 digs, while senior rightside hitter Erica Lott also added a double-double with 16 kills and 13 digs.

Junior middle blocker Rachel Dyer hit .333 for the Cougars with 16 kills, and junior outside hitter Bryn Porter tied her career high with 11 kills. First-year starter Ashton Hansen, a sophomore middle blocker, hit an efficient .417 in her 12 swings to record five kills, while senior libero Annie Pinegar came up with 20 digs on the defensive side of the net.

"Overall it was a great weekend for us to learn how to compete at the level necessary for us to achieve our goals," Watson said.

The Cougars got down early against the hometown Hawkeyes, dropping the first two games by identical 30-21 counts. In game one Iowa went on a 10-4 run to take a commanding 20-11 advantage on the way to the win. Game two was a much different path to the identical outcome as the two teams battled closely most of the game until Iowa made a late 10-3 run to turn a 20-18 lead into a nine-point final margin.

BYU turned its fortunes around with a dominating effort in game three. The Cougars hit .378 for the game and jumped out to an early 10-3 advantage while building a lead that reached 14 points at 28-14. Rogers called her own number for the game-winner, dumping the ball over the net for the 30-19 triumph.

When the Hawkeyes took an 8-2 lead in game four it looked like the home team was poised to pull off the upset and be the first to win three games. The Cougars, however, proved they were not going to go away, responding with a 6-2 run to close the deficit to 10-8. Iowa built the lead to five at 17-12 before BYU made the biggest push of the night with six straight points to claim the advantage at 18-17 on a Dyer service ace.

The Cougars didn't surrender the lead again in the fourth game while holding on for the 30-26 win to force a decisive fifth game to 15 points. Iowa took an 8-6 lead in game five as the two teams traded ends of the court, but BYU responded with six of the next seven points to take a three-point edge at 12-9. Lott put down a kill for BYU's 13th point and Dyer earned the final two scores for the Cougars, recording the match-winner off a set from Goodman for the 15-13 victory.

Becky Walters paced Iowa with 16 kills while Catherine Smale added 11 before leaving the match in the fourth game with an injury.

No. 17 BYU now brings its 2-0 record back to Provo to face No. 11 Wisconsin Friday at 7 p.m. in the team's home opener. The Cougars host the annual BYU Molten Classic Friday and Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse.

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