BYU men’s volleyball’s “hit show” dominates to earn four-set win against UCSB
BYU’s white jerseys contrasted with the sea of royal blue worn by fans in the Fieldhouse Friday night. The vocal enthusiasm of these BYU fans would contribute to the energy that allowed for the men’s team to win against UCSB in just four sets. Crowd engagement, consistent offense, and key players on BYU’s team all made for an unforgettable game for both the spectators and the team.
Set one started off slow with two service errors from each team in the first seven points, and BYU still could not pick up any momentum when the scoreboard hit 7-10 UCSB.
When BYU coach Shawn Olmstead called his first time out at 14-18, the Cougars only boasted four kills compared to UCSB’s nine, and only had three digs to Santa Barbara’s ten. Shawn Olmstead would call his second time out second timeout at 16-20. Three hitting errors widened the gap even more putting the Cougars down 17-23.
To revamp the energy on the court, Olmstead subbed Kupono Browne for Anthony Cherfan at the end of the set. Despite this change, UCSB grabbed another kill to make it set point at 24-21. However, Cherfan raised the score to 22-24 with his first kill of the night, and would become the all-star of the night in the following sets.
Set one ended 25-22 UCSB after a kill from Santa Barbara’s Rees Barnett, but the Cougars would not let the night be a runaway for the Californian team.
In set two Cherfan proved leaving him on the court was the best choice that Olmstead could have made. BYU maintained the lead in the entire second set, capitalizing on strong offense from each of their hitters.
A deadly backrow kill from Moser raised the score to 12-5, a gap that BYU maintained for much of the set. Olmstead would call a time out of the set after two hitting errors put the Cougars up only 18-12. The time out was well used as BYU led 22-14 after Ramanis had two back-to-back kills from outside.
Three service errors later, the scoreboard read 24-18 with BYU up. Cherfan would maintain his dominance in the set with a kill to end the second set 25-19 and give the Cougars their first set of the night.
Set two allowed for BYU to display impressive stats in contrast to the set before. Cherfan boasted an impressive .600 hitting percentage, and Gavin Julien and Moser were close behind, each with a .333.
A large part of the Cougar’s set win was their 11 blocks compared to the Santa Barbara’s four, and three aces to their opponent’s one.
Set three the cougars kept hot momentum thanks to the crowd’s energy and leadership from Cherfan on the court. The set began with two teams going back and forth to hold the lead.
UCSB had their first net violation of the set to be up 9-8, and Julien followed swiftly with his first kill of the set- a driven tip the center of UCSB’s court. UCSB would have another net violation, and despite a challenge, this call would not be reversed.
Both teams had their share of kills before the Californians had their third net violation to tie the game 17-17. After a time-out called by UCSB, Julien had yet another kill from the middle of the court, really utilizing his quick “three” attacks, well assisted by setter Heath Hughes.
Cherfan and Moser each took a kill to end the set for BYU at 25-23. Moser lead the team in kills with twelve, followed by Cherfan with eleven and Ramanis with eight. The Cougars also had an impressive 13 blocks in the set.
Spirits were high on and off the court as the crowd sang BYU’s fight song and the Cougars took a breather before the fourth and final set. The first point was not a disappointment as the ball travelled over the net seven times before another kill from Cherfan ended the rally.
Olmstead won another challenge to get BYU a three-point lead at 13-10.
UCSB would call a time out at 18-14 BYU, and would side out immediately regaining some momentum. The Cougars would not let them close the gap fast enough; an electric kill from Moser put BYU at 22-18 BYU and the crowd on their feet. The 23rd point for the Cougars came from another black from Taylor, appeasing the crowd even more.
A service error from UCSB would make it match point for the Cougars. The Fieldhouse was silent as Moser took the match-point serve. His jump float dropped right to the middle of the court, securing his first ace of the night and the match for his team.
Amid the intense cheering after the game, Cherfan took a minute to express what he believed was the contributor to the Cougar’s win.
“The key to all of this is just being poised,” Cherfan expressed. “Being poised, being consistent, the competitive greatness spirit to every single rally, every single play and most importantly practice. The most important thing is to be competitive every single rally.”
Coach Olmstead was happy with the way his team was able to bounce back after losing the first set to the southern opponent that is known for their scrappiness and pick-up game.
“Santa Barbara…they touch everything. It’s really hard to get a kill, so I was pretty impressed to go down 1-0 and for the team to stay the course and not to get too ahead of [themselves],” Olmstead said.
The Cougars will need to maintain their consistent offensive and blocking pressure as they play UCSB again Saturday night.