Provo • There's little doubt that Jennifer Hamson has become a force for the BYU women's volleyball team.
Throughout the season, Hamson has not only led the attack but been a force on defense as well. St. Mary's felt Hamson's offensive sting Thursday night at Elaine Michaelis Court.
The 6-foot-7 opposite hitter led the 16th-ranked Cougars to an overwhelming 25-22, 25-12 and 25-18 victory. Hamson dominated with a school-record performance 21 kills in a three-set match.
Once BYU (19-1, 7-1 West Coast) took a 14-10 lead in the first set, the match was never in doubt. The Cougars jumped out to an 11-point lead and never looked back.
With the victory, the Cougars stay within a game of No. 13 San Diego for first place in the West Coast Conference. St. Mary's (10-9, 5-3 WCC) falls into a tie for third with Santa Clara.
"Jennifer just had a great overall game," BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said afterward. "We shouldn't be surprised because we know she can do it and she's done it before at times, but it's exciting for her to do it against a team like this
Hamson was the story Thursday for BYU. Her record-breaking 20th kill of the match gave the Cougars a 16-14 advantage in the third and final game.
However, Hamson, who also added nine digs, wasn't the only story. Alexa Gray finished with 11 kills, while Heather Hannemann spurred the attack with 37 assists.
"First and foremost, we learned that we knew we could play with these guys if we passed really well," Olmstead said. "We did that a lot better and I was happy for these girls that they stepped up that part of the game."
Utah State 3, Idaho 2 • In Moscow, Idaho, Josselyn White tallied 17 kills and 16 digs, and Paige Neves had 43 assists, as the Aggies remained in first place in the Western Athletic Conference by winning 19-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-20, 15-8.
Utah State, which has won six of its past eight matches, improves to 14-7 and 9-2 in conference play.
Northern Arizona 3, Weber State 2 • In Flagstaff, Ariz., Audrey Bigg pounded out a career-high 15 kills, but it wasn't enough as the Wildcats lost 29-27, 14-25, 25-21, 13-25, 15-4 in Big Sky Conference volleyball.
Audrey Gee had seven blocks and five kills, and Rebecca Fuchs tallied nine kills, six digs and five blocks for Weber State (8-14, 2-9).
Idaho State 3, Southern Utah 1 • In Cedar City, the Bengals improved to 10-1 in the Big Sky Conference with a 25-17, 25-18, 16-25, 25-17 victory over the Thunderbirds.
Analaine Mailoto tallied a team-high 15 kills and Gabi Mirand had a match-high 43 assists for SUU (8-14, 4-7).
Tressa Lyman had a team-high 15 kills for Idaho State (16-4, 10-1).