While thundering spikes from AVCA first-team All-American Jennifer D. Hamson (BS ’14), center, were key in the BYU women’s volleyball team’s best NCAA Tournament finish ever, defense might have been the biggest factor. The top blocking team in the nation, BYU averaged an NCAA record 3.85 stuffs per set and featured the no. 1 blocker in sophomore J. Whitney Young (’17), right, whose 1.89 blocks per set were also an NCAA record.

BYU was the first unseeded team to make it to the championship, using its stout defense to down four seeded teams, including no. 2 Texas in the semifinals, where BYU registered 17 blocks. The Cougars finally fell in the championship match to defending national champ Penn State.

“To simply say that I am proud of this team is an understatement,” says Shawn L. Olmstead (BA ’05), named AVCA National Coach of the Year. “These girls have given their all.”

Two BYU women Volleyball players jumping to block the volleyball.

Photography by Jaren S. Wilkey (’01)