The BYU men’s volleyball players came out of their first home game celebrating after winning against Northridge in only three sets (25-23, 25-22, 25-15). BYU’s first win of the year came after two losses earlier this month.
The crowd at Smith Fieldhouse was roaring, and the Cougars responded. After the team had sealed the first set, players seemed more confident and the points came rolling in.
“If you lose the first set you start thinking, ‘What’s going on?'” said coach Chris McGown. “To win that gave us a lot of confidence.”
Sophomore Tyler Heap led the team on offense with 37 assists.
“He made us all look good,” said senior Devin Young.
The Cougars showed a strong offense throughout the game. Junior Josue Rivera, despite recent back injuries, made especially great passes and receives. Junior Jaylen Reys also provided solid play for BYU.
“At this point in the season the way to win matches is to out-energy the other teams” McGown said. “To come together and be great, have great body language, and I thought we were really good at that.”
Toward the end of the first set, senior Taylor Sander made a nice block with his face, which ended with him doubled over on the sidelines. It wasn’t long, however, before Sander was right back in the game.
“It never feels good to get hit in the face,” Sander said. “But it kind of woke me up, and I think we played good after that, so I guess it was a good thing.”
The blow to the nose didn’t prevent Sander from leading all scorers with 14 kills. Sophomore Matt Underwood also provided steady scoring for the Cougars, with 10 kills.
“We’ve had, quite frankly, a bad week of practice — a lot of guys were sick, a lot of guys were hurt, just created kind of a down vibe at practice,” McGown said. “So for me to see them come out and play as hard as they did, I was really, really proud.”
BYU isn’t wasting any time, with another game on Jan. 11 against Long Beach State. The Cougars are wary of Long Beach’s defense tactics but still hopeful that using their advantage of strong serving will allow them to come out victorious.
“We get to have a battle tomorrow night,” Sanders said. “Each team in the conference is really good, and we have to show up and play our game to win.”