OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Jennifer Hamson had 22 kills and Alexa Gray added 19 to help BYU beat Texas 25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 26-24 in the NCAA women’s volleyball semifinals Thursday night.
The unseeded Cougars (30-4) hadn’t been to the semifinals since 1993, and they advanced to the final for the first time. They will take a 12-match winning streak into the final against defending champion Penn State, a 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21 winner over top-seeded Stanford in the second semifinal.
Hamson, a 6-foot-7 senior right side hitter, also had 10 digs and seven block assists. Gray, a 6-foot-2 junior outside hitter, had a .409 hitting percentage. BYU hit .209 as a team and had 17 team blocks.
Chiaka Ogbogu led the Longhorns (27-3) with 14 kills. Haley Eckerman, Texas’ first-team All-America middle blocker, had just nine kills and a .033 hitting percentage.
BYU, the only non-power five conference team in the field, upset Nebraska in the regional final. BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said he knew his team was the underdog heading into the semifinals, but he felt confident his team had the talent and the proper approach to win in Oklahoma City.
Wisconsin upset Texas in last year’s semifinals, and the Longhorns had said they were focused on avoiding another surprise result this year.
The first set was tied at 15, but Texas scored the next three points, including a powerful kill by Khat Bell, and BYU called a timeout.
The Cougars responded and took a 19-18 lead. With the score tied at 23, a kill by Hamson, then a block by Amy Boswell and Hamson clinched the set for BYU. Hamson had eight kills in the first.
In the second set, BYU broke away from a 9-all tie with its blocking game. Three double blocks by Tambre Nobles and Boswell helped the Cougars take a 17-10 lead. BYU closed it out with a kill by Gray, her seventh in the set, to take it 25-16 and put the Cougars up 2-0.
Texas won the third set 25-17. BYU led 15-13, but at the end, with Hamson in the back row and Gray switched out because she only plays front row, Texas took advantage and scored the last eight points of the set. BYU, which dominated the first two sets at the net, had no blocks in the third.
With the score tied at 24 in the fourth, Hamson delivered a hit that was called out at first. The call was quickly reversed because it was ruled that Texas touched the ball on the way out. The Texas bench was issued a yellow card for disagreeing with the call. After a Texas timeout, Hamson put the match away with a kill.