No. 9 BYU “serves” No. 8 Ohio State a loss after competitive four-set match
BYU stared at the two kills that came from Ohio State the first two points of the match Friday night. In these first plays, it seemed that the Cougars would have intense competition on their hands. However, no. 9 BYU would shut down no. 8 OSU in four sets, after a match of net play and strong service pressure from the boys in blue.
Right off the bat net play was essential to the progression of play in set one. Kills came off of the blocks, with net offense both as an asset and as an opposition for each team.
The score was tied at 3-3 when Ohio State’s head coach Kevin Burch challenged a call that was eventually overturned. Despite the switch, Gavin Julien quickly got BYU a side out with a kill from the middle.
With the game tied 19-19, BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead subbed in Heath Hughes for his first serve of the night. Hughes grabbed himself and BYU the night’s first ace, and got both the crowd and his team jumping for joy.
The score was once again tied at 24-24 when Olmstead challenged a point. Over inspection by the officiants, the call was reversed, and BYU took the first set 25-23.
BYU started with a quick lead after scoring four of the first five points of the second set. Both teams gave away a significant amount of points through service errors throughout the night, and four of the first eleven points of set two came from these misses on the backline.
Despite the four-point lead that BYU possessed at the beginning of the set, OSU would consistently creep back to tie the set at 15-15. Olmstead would sub in another bench player, Kupono Browne, to serve, and he too grabbed an ace from his first serve of the night!
Miks Ramanis had the kill to win the set for BYU at 25-23. Despite consistent kills from both teams, the outcome of the set truly was due to the service pressure and mistakes from each team.
By the end of the second set, OSU had 13 service errors, half of a set. Hitting percentage had OSU up .230 compared to BYU’s .220, showing that the sets had not been won from offense alone.
Service errors from OSU gave BYU their first two points of set three. Nonetheless, OSU took a lead of 6-2, until Moser sided BYU out with a kill to the middle back. Moser would then assist Benson, who killed the ball for a score of 5-6, OSU still up.
Kupono again came into serve at 18-18. OSU’s first touch off of his serve would send the ball up into the Fieldhouse’s fixtures. To the delight of the audience, the ball rested on the top of a light, resulting in another replay in the set.
After a kill from Benson put BYU up 20-18, OSU called a time out. They’d call their second time out minutes later at 22-20 after a block from Teon Taylor. Despite this lead, OSU would come back to win the set 25-22, due to errors from BYU.
Both Olmstead and Benson commented on the lack of closure from BYU at the end of this set. Benson commented on how they’ll improve their ability to finish sets tomorrow night against OSU.
“Tomorrow we are going to make sure we have a sense of urgency, and are really pushing to win,” Benson said. “[We] have to play our hearts out and really want it. We need to put in max effort.”
Set four began with an unsurprising service error from OSU. Further service errors and kills would give BYU the lead at 12-9, when OSU called a time out.
Julien grabbed another kill off of a quick “three” set in the middle, putting BYU up 16-13. However, an unfamiliar OSU ace would tie the game at 16-16, forcing a BYU timeout.
Benson, Moser, and Julien would each continue to snag kills, putting the score at 23-19. Julien had the highest hitting percentage of the night with a .600, and Benson and Moser tied for leading kills with 14 each.
The Cougars had set point at 24-21, after a challenge from OSU was not overturned. Julien served, came back to dig the ball, with Ramanis taking his thirteenth kill of the night to finish the set and match at 25-21.
Despite crowd-favorite net plays, serving was more of a factor in the match than either team’s offense. BYU had six aces, compared to OSU’s five. However, the biggest factor to BYU’s win came from 23 service errors from OSU, compared to BYU’s total of 12.
Another aspect was the cheering of BYU’s expansive crowd and ROC section. Olmstead extended his appreciation for his team’s fans.
“This crowd means so much to us… [crowd engagement] is the coolest experience to these guys,” professed Olmstead. “To see it so filled up, it means the world to our team and program to have that support of BYU.”
The adrenaline of the game could be felt after the match ended, and is sure to be magnified again against OSU come Saturday night’s game at 7:00 in the Fieldhouse.