Cougars get ugly wins against Northridge

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    By RUSS RIGGS

    A win is a win, but it sure was ugly.

    The BYU men’s volleyball team picked up two victories against Cal State Northridge Jan. 28 and 29.

    “I told the team that it is always better to win than to lose, but I wasn’t happy with the way we played,” Coach Carl McGown said.

    In the first match on Friday night, BYU swept the Matadors 15-11, 15-12, 15-5.

    Why then, was Coach Mcgown so displeased?

    “After we got off to a good start we didn’t do anything after that,” he said. “We want to go on the court and do things that make us a better team. We didn’t do that tonight.”

    BYU jumped out very quickly to a 6-1 lead and went on to take a commanding 12-2 lead before the Matadors caught fire.

    Northridge pulled within 13-10 before BYU called a timeout to regroup. The Cougars eventually closed the door on the Matadors at 15-11.

    Outside hitter Mike Wall led the charge with six kills and three digs. In addition, setter Chris Pitzak went over 2,300 assists for his career to move into fourth place all time among Cougar netters.

    “I didn’t think about the record at all. I’m just concentrating on trying to get better,” Pitzak said.

    Game two was close from the start with both teams battling back and forth. Led by Joaquin Acosta, who had a team-high seven kills, the Cougars took a commanding 14-10 lead.

    However, the Matadors would not die. The score was stuck at 14-12 for about 10 minutes, but the Cougars put the Matadors down for good.

    In game three, the Cougars put things together and cruised to an easy 15-5 victory. Outside hitter Mike Wall led BYU with 14 kills and six digs while Matt Olsen took care of the defense with 13 blocks.

    Sophomore Joaquin Acosta, who was named MPSF Player of the Week, said the Cougars lost their focus.

    “We got ahead and we let down. We didn’t work as hard as we should have,” Acosta said.

    The slump seemed to continue into Saturday night when Cal State Northridge came out on fire and took game one 15-9 It was the first single-game win the Matadors have had against the Cougars in 17 tries, dating back to April 3, 1997.

    “They played well on Friday and came out emotional tonight,” McGown said.

    In game two, Northridge went up quickly 3-0 and continued to battle the Cougars the whole way in what was a very tough game.

    Suddenly, BYU found its niche behind Acosta and his game-high eight kills. BYU took a 10-9 lead and never looked back, finishing the game with a score of 15-11.

    The Cougars carried the momentum over into games three and four destroying the Matadors 15-6 and 15-2. Acosta led the team in kills with 29 and Olsen added 20 more. Libero Brad Goldston had 17 digs and Scott Bunker led the team in blocks with 11.

    “Matt Olsen had a great match and so did Chris Pitzak. Chris is getting better and better every time we play,” McGown said.

    Although the Cougars struggled at times, McGown said the match was well worth playing.

    “I thought Cal State Northridge played hard,” McGown said. “I’m pleased with the way we had our backs to the wall in game two and we kept responding. It was good to have to play hard and come from behind to win. We took a step forward tonight.”

    Setter Chris Pitzak said, “Northridge played tough, but we were able to rise to the occasion.”

    The Cougars now head out on another tough road trip with a game at Long Beach State on Feb. 2, and a pair of games at Pepperdine on Feb. 3 and 5.

    “I’m interested to see how we’re going to play against Long Beach. We’re going to go down there and get after them,” McGown said.

    “It’s going to be a very tough road trip. It will be a good test to see how good we are,” added Pitzak.

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