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Cougars stun Fighting Irish

PROVO — Coming off two disappointing road defeats last weekend and heading into a crucial Mountain West Conference showdown against arch-rival Utah this weekend, the BYU women's volleyball team desperately needed a mid-week pick-me-up.

The Cougars got one Wednesday night — against an unlikely opponent.

BYU registered a hard-fought 3-2 (29-31, 30-23, 20-30, 30-26, 15-11) victory over Notre Dame before 1,693 fans at the Smith Fieldhouse.

That would be the same Fighting Irish team that swept the nationally ranked Utes Tuesday night in Salt Lake City and halted Utah's 12-match winning streak.

"That's a big deal to beat the team that beat Utah," said BYU's Lexi Brown, who recorded 16 kills. Teammate Erica Lott tied her career high with 19 kills.

Certainly, the win didn't come easily. In fact, the Cougars had to come from behind.

Facing a must-win situation, BYU trailed Notre Dame 8-3 in the fourth game when it mounted an impressive rally that eventually saw the Cougars roar back and take a 22-21 advantage. From there, BYU gradually pulled away.

In the decisive fifth game, the Cougars jumped out to a commanding 6-1 lead and never looked back.

"I had goose bumps from the fourth game on," said BYU middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock. "We refused to lose tonight." The Cougars suffered a pair of disappointing losses last weekend at Wyoming and Colorado State. BYU coach Karen Lamb was looking for her team to bounce back, and it did.

"It was a total team effort," she said.With the victory, the Cougars improved to 11-8 overall. Notre Dame of the Big East Conference fell to 10-6 overall and saw its five-match winning streak snapped.

BYU visits Utah Saturday at 1 p.m.


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com