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Thanks to Chelsea Goodman and the BYU women's volleyball team, the Cougars had a lot to smile about Friday night after a five-game victory on Crimson Court. The Cougars ended a string of six straight defeats on Utah's home court with a 25-30, 30-24, 30-23, 26-30, 15-7 triumph.
"This was an emotional match for both sides," BYU coach Jason Watson said. "We both really needed it in terms of the conference race. I'm really proud of our composure. This keeps us in the hunt."
The win not only improved BYU's Mountain West Conference mark to 5-3 and 13-5 overall but was also the program's first win at Utah since a 3-1 victory in 2000 under legendary coach Elaine Michaelis. The victory also gave BYU the first three points in the newly created Deseret First Duel rivalry series between the Utes and Cougars. The Duel awards points to the winner of head-to-head competitions to recognize an annual overall champion.
"I thought the blocking tonight was huge for us," said Goodman, who recorded the first BYU triple-double match since 2004 (Lauren Richards) and the first by a non-setter since 2000 (Nina Puikkonen). "I know the best part of the match for me was blocking. I thought our blocking just gave us confidence."
Goodman's block was indeed the best part of her 21-kill, 11-dig, 12-block performance if you look at her career statistics. The senior All-American not only tied the MWC record for career double-doubles with 47 but also doubled her previous best effort of six blocks. After hitting negative in the first game, she rebounded for a solid .326 attack for the match.
"(Goodman) didn't start out as strong as we expect her to, but certainly the way she ended inspired us," Watson said. "She is everything for us. She's about as good as good can be."
Goodman got plenty of help from her teammates as sophomore middle blocker Ashton Hanson had a career-high 11 kills and tied her personal best with 13 blocks to lead BYU. Junior middle blocker Rachel Dyer and setter Amy Schlauder also tied their career marks with 12 and seven blocks, respectively. As a team, BYU had its third-best blocking night ever with 52 blocks assists and fourth-best performance in total blocks with 26. Utah managed 11 team blocks on the night.
"Our serve helped get them out of system and allowed us to set up our block based on their tendencies," Watson said.
Utah's attack was held to a .130 efficiency with the strong Cougar defense. All-American Whitney Webb led Utah with 22 kills.
BYU improves to 63-21 overall against the Utes, including a 22-10 advantage in Salt Lake City. Utah is now 7-10 overall and 4-4 in the MWC.
In game one, the Cougars led 5-3 before Utah scored four consecutive points during an 8-2 run to take the lead at 11-7. The Cougars evened the score at 16-16 after a four-point run and again at 17 and 23 but could not get the upper hand. After Dyer and Schlauder's block tied the score at 23, Utah came back from a timeout and put down four straight kills on the way to a 7-2 run to win the game at 30-25.
BYU evened the match in game two by returning the favor. The Cougars broke a 22-22 tie by going on an 8-2 that included the game's final seven points.
One of the best rallies of the match game in game two and looked for a time as if it would keep the Utes on top of the scoreboard. With BYU leading 8-6, Cougar libero Annie Pinegar made an incredible diving play keep a sure kill from hitting the floor while sending it to the Utah side of the court. As play continued, BYU eventually won the point after the long rally, but the officials conferred and ruled that Pinegar's shot had gone outside the antennae, which turned a 9-6 BYU lead into an 8-7 standing.
The Utes took advantage of the momentum by scoring three of the next four points during a 9-3 run that gave them a solid 16-11 lead. BYU didn't fold, however, as the Cougar block continued to present problems for Utah when Dyer and Goodman's block of a backrow Ute attack evened the score at 22-22. During the game, Goodman put down five kills with only one error while Dyer recorded four blocks.
In game three BYU continued to be a wall at the net, putting up 7.5 team blocks during the 30-23 win. The Cougars were also efficient on the attack, hitting .300 thanks in large part to Goodman's .600 game-three performance that produced seven kills and only one error. Utah did not get closer than five points down the stretch with BYU scoring the last three points to claim the one-game edge in the match.
A battle ensued in game four with 16 ties before the Utes eventually prevailed to force a decisive fifth game. Utah's Karolina Bartkowiak broke a 25-25 tie with a kill to fuel four straight Ute points. Ashton Hanson didn't let the Utes celebrate on their first game-point opportunity by putting down a kill, but the Cougars were called into the net on the next possession as Utah picked up the 30-26 win.
BYU recorded the first two points of game five and never trailed the rest of the way for the 15-7 triumph. The outcome of the match was still in doubt with BYU leading 9-7, but the Cougars closed it out on a 7-0 run that had the final exclamation point of a Goodman crosscourt smash.