20190926 VBall v. BYU - LKaneshige 007

Freshman outside hitter Zoe Thiros attempts to tip the ball over BYU's blockers. Gonzaga volleyball fell to the Cougars 3-0 Thursday evening.

Gonzaga volleyball failed to capitalize on early leads in straight sets Thursday night in their first league game of the season, falling to BYU at home, 3-0.

The Cougars (9-2) looked to continue their hot streak against GU (6-6) after beating now-No. 1 ranked Stanford last Saturday. Despite slow starts, BYU dominated every set.

In the beginning of the first set, the Bulldogs got off to a hot start after scoring the first three points. But after a serve into the net by senior Jenna Keuhn, BYU scored three unanswered point to tie up the game and eventually ran away with the set with a final score of 25-13.

The Bulldogs had a similar start to the second set, getting ahead 7-5 early. But BYU, led by sophomore Heather Gneiting, made it difficult for the Bulldogs to score, and the Cougars would rally and take the lead. After GU cut the score to 12-15 with a Penner kill, Miller would take over the game, scoring 8 consecutive points to bring the lead to 23-12. Oppio got a kill to stop the run, but BYU ultimately claimed set 2 by a score of 25-13.

Set three showed more promise for the Zags when they went neck and neck throughout the beginning of the set, claiming an 11-10 lead. But once again, the dominance of Miller prevailed. She quickly erased that lead with two straight kills, and once again the Cougars continued to roll. Miller would finish off the game with a kill, winning the match 3-0.

Although GU suffered a tough loss, Penner mentioned that it was important for them to go up against such a talented opponent.

“We've just got to go to the next point,” Penner said. “You've just got to play each point like an individual game.”

GU started two freshmen in Zoe Thiros and Tia Andaya. In their first start in league play, head coach Diane Nelson was pleased with their performance.

“It has everything to do with the way they go about their business,” Nelson said. “In order to grow those players, that’s the way we want our culture to be. They’re winners.”

Regardless, Thiros and the Bulldogs are excited for a chance to bounce back against San Diego.

“It’s all about bouncing back,” Thiros said. “USD is another team that has a lot of firepower, but I think if we continue to win the serve and pass game, then we will take these to 4 and 5 [sets] and win.”

The Bulldogs will face the Toreros in the Martin Centre at noon Saturday.

Vinny Saglimbeni is a staff writer.

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