The BYU men’s volleyball 3-0 sweep of the UC San Diego Tritons Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse started with a bang.
It actually was more of a Jake Langlois, Michael Hatch and Matt Underwood triple block than a bang, but it had a similar effect. The Cougars established their dominance quickly and didn’t let go until they won the final set 25-21.
“We got what we wanted this weekend,” head coach Chris McGown said.
BYU’s 39 total blocks were shared across the team, as junior Carson Heninger led the team with a season-high six blocks, but junior Hatch and senior Phil Fuchs weren’t far behind with five each. Langlois, Kiril Meretev and Price Jarman also added four kills each in the win.
“One of the strengths of our team is that we’ve got a lot of depth,” McGown said. “We’re deep, two or three deep at every position, and we play well.”
Jarman had a team-high six block assists in addition to the team’s only solo block of the match. Underwood, Langlois and Hatch all helped out in achieving 15 total team blocks. Hatch credited the strong blocking as the team’s greatest strength against UCSD.
“We blocked really well,” Hatch said. “It wasn’t our best hitting night or serving night, but we got a lot of blocks in.”
The Cougars had two triple blocks and an ace from Langlois within the first six points of the match, prompting an early timeout from San Diego. The timeout did little to stop BYU’s momentum, however, because kills from Meretev and Langlois and a block from Grosh and Langlois quickly put the score at 10-6. San Diego rallied to decrease its deficit later but only managed to close the gap to 18-15. Kills from Underwood, Hatch, Langlois and Meretev finished the set off 25-18.
McGown changed the lineup in the second set, giving Jarman, Fuchs and freshmen Durkin and Ty Hutchins time on the court. UCSD stayed close at the beginning, but BYU soon took off with a lead 14-8. Three missed serves in a row from BYU allowed San Diego to recover slightly, but a block from Hutchins and Jarman shut down the Tritons. Hutchins and Heninger’s successive kills then brought BYU to set point, 24-15. The Tritons fought back and held the Cougars off with blocks and kills of their own, until their missed serve finished the set 25-20.
UCSD stole BYU’s momentum in the third set, and the Cougars trailed throughout the majority of the set. BYU’s missed serves and hitting errors allowed the Tritons to lead, but the Cougars held them and never allowed themselves to get behind by more than three points.
“We stopped serving and passing well, so we were out of system a lot,” Hatch said. “But we got some nice blocks and kills and put our serves in, and that turned it around.”
A kill from Fuchs at 15-19 did just that and sparked a spree of kills and blocks from Heninger, Fuchs and Jarman. This BYU turnaround forced two San Diego timeouts as the Cougars took the lead 20-19. A final kill from Fuchs just a few points later ended the match 25-21.
BYU men’s volleyball plays again in the Smith Fieldhouse for a double header against Cal Baptist Friday and Saturday, Feb. 6–7.