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Jennifer Hamson earned an all-conference honors for the Brigham Young women's volleyball as a sophomore.

The former Pleasant Grove High standout led the Cougars in kills to set the bar on expectations. Even more usual, the 6-foot-7 Hamson also was second in digs, which typically means going to the floor to return a hard spike.

"You can always dig more balls," Hamson said after leading the No. 14 Cougars to a four-set victory against San Diego. That was followed a few days later with a three-set sweep of Loyola Marymount to keep BYU (23-2, 11-2 WCC) in first place, a game ahead of No. 18 San Diego for the West Coast Conference lead.

The bar has been destroyed this season. It took three matches at the season-opening Rice Invitational for Hamson to announce her junior season would be something special. She finished the tournament with 44 kills and nine blocks.

Hamson leads with 3.91 kills a game while hitting at a .354 clip this season. She also has 1.26 blocks. She's had 20 or more kills in a match four times.

She raised eyebrows with two statistical matches this season. The long and powerful opposite hitter finished with 25 kills and 12 digs against Wichita State. She finished a match against Loyola Marymount with 23 kills, 10 blocks and seven digs.

More important to Hamson, who has combined with Nicole Warner and Alexa Gray to create a formidable attack and defense, BYU has improved as a team.

"One of our goals was to be conference champions and play well in the [NCAA] tournament," Hamson said. "My goals are more like what can I do to help my team win. I want to be standing there right next to them."

Even while earning MVP honors and a state championship at Pleasant Grove, Hamson, who also plays on the BYU basketball team, knew she was going to be a Cougar. It was part of family history.

Her mother, Tresa Spaulding Hamson, was of BYU basketball's all-time greats. Hamson's uncle Ben Hamson played volleyball for BYU, as did her aunt Britt Hamson.

"You've got to know where she is," BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Defensively, you have to know where she is at all times."

BYU presents tough challenges offensively and defensively. Who do you attack? Warner leads the nation in blocking and has improved offensively to provide a sparkling .434 hitting percentage.

Gray, a freshman, averages nearly as many kills as Hamson — 3.45.

"I can go anywhere," BYU setter Heather Hannemann said. "Jen is someone I do go to. If we need a point, I go to Jen. We have a lot of hitters, so I wait and see who's hot — play it by ear."

In a pinch though, "Jen's great."

Twitter:@tribmarty —

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