BYU men’s volleyball swept the Cal Baptist University Lancers 3-0 in the second night of the teams’ double-header in the Smith Fieldhouse Saturday night.
Freshman Brenden Sander and junior Matt Underwood finished with 10 kills each after the team won the three sets 25-18, 25-20 and 25-20, but BYU head coach Chris McGown credited the team’s depth and defense for the win.
“I love that we’re able to put different lineups on the floor and still play hard and still play well,” McGown said. “We did a good job defensively. I thought it was really hard for them to kill balls against us all night long.”
Set one started with a quick kill from Kiril Meretev, but Cal Baptist never let the Cougars get far ahead. The set stayed neck-and-neck as kills from Underwood, Sander, Michael Hatch and Joe Grosh were matched by the Lancers. Another kill from Hatch raised the score to 15-13, and Meretev stepped back to serve. Consecutive blocks by setter Tyler Heap and Sander increased the lead to 18-13 and prompted a Cal Baptist timeout. The Lancers never recovered the deficit, and a kill from Meretev raised the score to 23-18. CBU then made two hitting errors in a row to lose the set 25-18.
The second set started much like the first with a quick point for BYU, this time earned on a block from Hatch. Points again accumulated back and forth for each team. Both teams missed serves too, but subsequent kills from Grosh, Hatch and Sander raised the score to 9-7. Another Sander kill and triple block made it 11-8, after which CBU called another timeout, but the Cougars didn’t ease up or lose the lead. Sander later made the team’s only ace to make it 15-10. Multiple kills from Meretev, Heap and Sander stretched the lead to 22-17. The Cougars reached set point after a triple block from Grosh, Underwood and Sander and a Meretev kill. BYU’s serving and hitting errors let CBU gain two points before a Lancer missed serve allowed BYU to win the set 25-20.
In such a repetitive match, it was necessary for the Cougars to stay focused, according to McGown.
“We remind them ‘do your job every single play,'” McGown said. “It’s just a function of dialing in mentally and working as hard as they can.”
The advice remained relevant because the pacing of the match didn’t change in the third set. The teams remained even up through a score of 10-10. At this point, CBU missed another serve, and the Cougars took the opportunity for a lead. Sander and Underwood made two consecutive kills followed by a block from Sander and Price Jarman to make it 14-10. BYU held on to the four-point lead until the end of the match. More blocks and kills raised the score to 21-17, but hitting and serving errors on both sides of the net added the next few points to make it a 23-19 score. BYU gained match point 24-19 thanks to a kill from Jarman, and Sander finished the match 25-20 with a kill of his own.
The Cougars’ consistency was clear throughout the game, proving pivotal in holding off the Lancers.
“There isn’t a lot of magic to it, just working hard,” McGown said.
BYU plays again in a double header at the University of Southern California on Feb. 13 and 14 before returning to the Smith Fieldhouse Feb. 20 and 21 to compete against Long Beach State.