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BYU’s Livingston, Gneiting pass on USA volleyball experience – Daily Herald

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Courtesy BYU Photo

BYU’s Erin Livingston attacks the ball during a match against Duke in the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, August 26, 2022.

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Courtesy BYU Photo

A BYU women’s volleyball record crowd of 5,570 filled the Smith Fieldhouse for the Cougars’ match against Duke on Friday, August 26, 2022.

Earlier this week, BYU’s Erin Livingston and Heather Gneiting stood in front of their teammates and shared some wisdom.

Livingston, a junior outside hitter and Gneiting, a senior middle blocker, were selected to the US Women’s Collegiate National Team this summer, which allowed them to train within the Team USA program in Anaheim.

Cougar coach Heather Olmstead thought this would be a valuable teaching tool for her young team.

“Heather and Erin came back with a wealth of knowledge from their USA experience,” Olmstead said. “They had a chance to present to the team about what they experienced. I see more confidence in Erin and I’ve seen her be more of a vocal leader. She knows what it takes to be successful. She’s seen the level of play she aspires to and she’s gotten better.

“Heather experienced the same thing. She also got to train in March with the USA team. It’s so important to be a learner and they both brought back the importance of learning, having that growth mindset. That USA experience helped increase their love for the game and their desire to seek opportunities to play after BYU.”

Livingston totaled 246 kills last season and will be featured in the BYU offense in 2022.

“USA volleyball was such an awesome experience,” she said. “It was super fun getting to learn from other coaches and players. We talked a lot about having a growth mindset. Everyone there was really good at learning and helping to grow, to focus on yourself. When we presented to our team, we talked about being a great teammate. We have a lot of players who are new to each other.”

While Gneiting was NCAA Freshman of the Year and is a four-year starter, Livingston is still growing into her new role.

“I’ve worked a lot of my serving, passing and defense this summer,” she said. “I want to be a six-rotation player so that was a huge focus for me. I am continuing to swing high and extend my range on the court.”

Last year’s team finished with a 30-2 record and a Sweet 16 appearance, so expectations are always high in Provo.

“Our goals this year are the same as every year,” Livingston said. “We want to win the West Coast Conference and a national championship. Along with that, we want to get one percent better every day.”

Friday night the Cougars battled with Duke in front of a BYU women’s volleyball record crowd of 5,507, finally finishing off a 3-1 (25-14, 25-19, 19-25, 25-19) victory in the Smith Fieldhouse.

On Friday afternoon the 10th-ranked Cougars opened the 2022 season at home in the Do’Terra Classic with a 3-0 sweep (25-10, 25-17, 25-16) of the Rider Broncs.

“Today is a day we’ve been waiting for all off-season, so it was really fun to go out there and get a win to start the season on the right note,” BYU middle blocker Whitney Llarenas said. “We had good energy from everyone on the court and on the bench, and being back in the Fieldhouse just amplified that.”

Livingston and Lllarenas led BYU with nine and eight kills respectively as the Cougars totaled 41 kills while hitting .405 in the three-set sweep. BYU tallied eight service aces, 35 digs and seven blocks in the season-opening victory.

“Our passes and sets were spot-on today, which made it easy for us to be assertive and put the ball away,” Llarenas said.

The senior from Bountiful hit .500 with eight kills on 12 attempts and three blocks in her sixth start as a Cougar.

Whitney Bower finished with 28 assists and six kills on 10 swings in her first start of the 2022 campaign. The senior from Nampa, Idaho, also recorded two service aces and six digs.

In other action on Friday, Washington State took a 3-1 victory (24-26, 25-14, 25-21, 25-20) against Duke. Pia Timmer led the red Cougars with 17 kills and Laura Jansen had 10, with libero Karly Basham totaling a match-high 15 digs.

Gracie Johnson paced Duke with 17 kills, Rachel Richardson had 13 and Moorea Wood 10.

Washington State also swept Rider (25-11, 25-9, 25-9) on Friday, hitting .554 with only five hitting errors all match.

The Red Cougars will face off with BYU at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse.

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