BYU men’s volleyball proves competitive but falls to No. 6 Anteaters

Wednesday night saw the No. 12 Cougars drop their first match of the season, falling to No. 6 UC Irvine in three sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-16).

The UC Irvine defense proved too much for Shawn Olmstead’s squad, as the Cougars racked up 23 attack errors and 13 service errors, hitting only .163 on the night. The Anteaters had 26 total blocks to go along with a .342 hit percentage that ended up being the difference.

Set 1 started off ugly, with both teams trading points on serving errors and unable to find a groove. However, the Anteaters soon pulled out to a 15-12 lead forcing a BYU timeout. As the teams restarted play, UCI capitalized on 2 more Cougar errors to take a 5-point lead.

Though the Cougars fought back to within a few points multiple times, attack and service errors proved too much to overcome as UCI took the first set 25-21. BYU ended the set with 4 more kills than the Anteaters, but also recorded twice as many errors.

Set 2 saw both teams pick up the pace, as kills and runs were traded back and forth for almost the entire set. In fact, the teams traded 4 straight 3-0 runs at one point, each ending in an opponent timeout.

Miks Ramanis, who returned to the starting lineup after missing the Fairleigh Dickinson matches with a sore knee, led the charge for the Cougars, racking up 4 kills and a block en route to tying the game at 23.

However, errors would again do the Cougars in, as the ensuing serve didn’t make it over the net. The Anteaters converted on their next serve, and the Cougars fell yet again, this time 25-23.

BYU came out fast in Set 3, jumping out to an early 5-2 lead behind monster blocks from Teon Tayler and Kupono Browne. The Anteaters would eventually scratch their way back into the match, going on a 14-7 run that featured 5 more Cougar attack errors.

At this point, down 20-13, the Cougs seemed to run out of gas. The Anteaters won 5 of the match’s final 7 points, winning the third and final set 25-16. Miks Ramanis and Kupono Browne led the Cougars with 12 kills apiece on the day, while Hilir Henno and Francesco Sani led the Anteaters with 10 kills each.

Losses sting, but they can also teach. This young Cougars team saw a lot of weaknesses rise to the surface, weaknesses that hadn’t been so apparent in their first 3 matches. The biggest and most obvious are the attack and service errors, which could be all the difference in closely contested sets like the first two on Wednesday.

The Cougars will have another shot at UC Irvine on Friday night at 10 PM ET, with the live broadcast available on ESPN+.

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