Standing at an ordinary 5 feet 8 inches tall, senior Mitchel Worthington followed his teammates — most of whom stand well over 6 feet — into the CU Arena in Irvine, California Friday night. The libero would leave the arena with a career milestone of 500 digs under his belt, with his Cougars overpowering Concordia in a swift three sets.
After the five digs that Worthington grabbed, he officially passed Davide Gardini, who held a record of 498 digs and landed in the seventh spot on BYU’s all-time dig list. This accomplishment was reason enough for the men’s team to celebrate Friday night, but so was their three-set sweep and impressive performances from many teammates.
Outside hitter Anthony Cherfan had the first kill of the night, fueling the domination that BYU would have in the first set. Overall, Cherfan recorded 10 kills and four blocks during the match.
BYU and CUI played cat-and-mouse for the beginning of the first set, each taking only tiny leads and then tying at point 13. At 19-15, CUI took their first time out of the night, and would soon take their second time out after BYU went on an immediate three-point run.
Sophomore Miks Ramanis would get the set point with a sharp kill for BYU, ending the set one 25-18. Ramanis himself also boasted a career-high night, with a .700 hitting percentage and 14 kills, the most recorded for any of either team’s hitters.
BYU continued to play well in the second set, never letting the Golden Eagles take the lead. Ramanis had back-to-back kills and continued to prove himself as a versatile and necessary unit to have on the front row in the offense. Setter Noa Haine recorded 28 assists during the night, working seamlessly with Ramanis. This was only the third match that the sophomore has started in, and he surely proved his offensive potential throughout the match.
Overall, Ramanis recorded six kills in the second set, with Trent Moser killing the ball for set point at 25-19. BYU hit a fair .300 for the set overall, and utilized their offense, while also boasting occasional blocks and aces against Concordia.
Set three gave CUI their first lead in a while when the score hit 6-5, BYU down. However, the Golden Eagles would soon be humbled again as the Cougars went on a five-point streak, landing the score at 15-11, BYU. Cherfan, Ramanis, and Moser had notable kills from the corners of the net in the third set, and the match would end at 25-18 after an impressive ace by Cherfan. Cherfan coincidentally had the first and later the last ace of the night, and continues to prove himself as an asset at the net and the service line.
The imposing three-set sweep was refreshing for the Cougars and their fans after having two humbling losses last week at UCLA. Despite those two matches, BYU held their No. 8 ranking in the AVCA coaches poll this week. The Cougars have not held as high a ranking since January 2022. With this ranking and BYU’s ability to bounce balls and bounce back after the occasional loss, they will surely continue to move up on this list and in their wins this season.
The team will play CUI again Saturday night 8 p.m. MDT, and will be entering the match with intimidation and players that continues to dominate BYU records and their own personal stats.