BYU men’s volleyball continues win streak in sweep over Farleigh Dickinson
The energy of all 4,125 people at the Smith Fieldhouse could be felt during BYU’s notable 3-0 match sweep against Farleigh Dickinson Saturday night.
The currently undefeated Cougars took their fourth win this season against the young FDU team after a block-heavy win against the same team the night before.
BYU remained ahead the entire first set, bouncing from a two-point lead to a nine-point advantage and finishing the set 25-15. Outside hitter Luke Benson emerged as an obvious asset on the court with his versatile offense for the Cougars. FDU’s Naveen Fernando, the nation’s top blocker, had some notable net action the first set but was not able to put a stop to the Cougars’ strong offense.
Setter Heath Hughes ended the first set with an impressive block to the back court, though the Cougar’s biggest advantage over FDU in that set came from their imposing offensive drives. BYU’s hitting percentage in the first set was a whopping .478, compared to FDU’s .034, with only two hitting errors. Middle blocker Teon Taylor was an early standout with 4 out of his 5 swings in the first set a kill. The Cougars ended the set with 13 kills overall. FDU had 8 kills, 6 of which belonged to their star outside hitter Artem Vetrov. FDU ended with 10 errors opposed to BYU’s 6, and many of these for each team came from service errors.
BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead commended his players on the steep first-set win against FDU.
“They let us off the hook a little bit there. Kind of a string of misses.” Olmstead said. “Happy to get a few guys in… let’s go again with it, stick with it, and hope for the best.”
BYU did indeed stick with it with another impressive win in the second set, despite a smaller gap in points between the two teams.
FDU used the first challenge of the match on the first point played, but that turnover would not be enough to give FDU the momentum needed to take the second set.
Outside hitters Miks Ramanis and Trent Moser were prominent passers for BYU in the second set. FDU was only down a point 13 to 14, but soon lost this momentum in part to BYU’s stunning offense. Moser widened that gap in points with his eighth kill and zero errors, and Teon Taylor had BYU’s third block of the night to get the Cougars up 20 to 15. The second win for BYU ended with Benson taking another kill off of FDU’s soft block to finish the set 25 to 19.
Moser finished the second set with 9 kills and 0 errors, leading both teams in hitting percentage. Part of his high kill-rate came from his versatility and ability to takes shots using the entire range of the court. Vetrov again carried FDU offensively and ended the second set with 10 kills, utilizing shots off of BYU’s block rather than relying on missiles to the floor. FDU ended the set with a .103 hitting percentage compared to BYU’s .378.
FDU’s head coach Karl France kept a smile on his face even as his team walked off after their second set loss, and seemed to remain content with his players’ efforts.
“I think if our middle gets a little more involved in the match we will be a little better,” France commented. “Right now we are having a problem with a connection there… if we get better serving, we’ll be able to put them under some pressure.”
Not enough pressure was provided by France’s team as BYU took the lead again quickly in the third set. A time out was called by FDU when BYU was up 4 to 8 in what would be the last set of the night. The currently undefeated Cougars were able to utilize the last runaway set by putting in some of their nonstarters, including Adam Bernardo and Jared Brady.
Freshman outside hitter Adam Bernardo took his first kill of the match halfway through the third set, and was soon followed by his teammate Jared Brady. Brady got his first in-game kill and BYU their 22nd point of the set in one of his first ever game plays. BYU’s starters cheered on the freshman as he proved himself with another kill and the serve on match-point. Brady once again increased his stats with a back-row kill to end the match for BYU, ending with a .600 hitting percentage and the set 25 to 15.
The result of the game was reflective in each team’s overall match statistics. BYU ended with 34 kills opposed to FDU’s 24, but truly pulled ahead in their .400 hitting percentage compared to FDU’s .025.
Those in the Fieldhouse witnessed a special occurrence as the match ended with most of BYU’s starters cheering from the sideline. Teon Taylor felt immense joy as he witnessed his teammates get on-court action at the end of the third set.
“We have the team, we have the pieces to go out and take anyone in the country. I love all those guys,” Taylor commented. “They work hard at practice, to see them on the court is awesome.”
BYU will need to replicate the strong offense it maintained over FDU and increase their serving pressure if they want another win against UC Irvine this Wednesday and Friday at the opposing team’s Bren Events Center.