Browne, Ramanis help BYU hit its way to 3-1 win over No. 14 Lewis
PROVO, Utah — Kupono Browne and Miks Ramanis combined for 30 kills as BYU men’s volleyball surged past No. 14 Lewis for a 3-1 win (25-20, 23-25, 25-17, 25-17) on Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
Browne recorded 16 kills on a 0.522 clip, the second-highest hitting percentage of his career. The junior from Honolulu, Hawaii also registered three blocks.
Ramanis totaled 14 kills and five digs, while Luke Benson also reached double-figures with 11 kills. Teon Taylor fortified BYU’s side of the net with a team-high five blocks, while also adding seven kills. Setter Heath Hughes exceeded his BYU debut on Friday as he poured-in 47 assists and seven digs.
As a team, BYU hit 0.438, its highest since a 3-0 win over Concordia on March 11, 2022. The Cougars posted 54 kills as a team while holding Lewis to 38 at a hitting percentage of 0.267. Max Roquet led the Flyers with 10 kills, three digs and a block.
Errors hampered both teams in the first set with BYU recording seven and Lewis 11. The Flyers and Cougars traded errors to a 15-14 BYU lead at the first media timeout. The Cougars came out of the break and found separation to a 19-16 with three momentum-building blocks. Browne and Taylor combined for back-to-back blocks in the sequence.
Kills from Taylor, Benson and Browne helped BYU build a set-high lead at 24-19 before Ramanis finished the set with a winning kill.
Lewis notched an early ace and took off to a 6-3 lead before BYU responded with three-straight points led by a Benson kill and Browne ace. Browne would finish with four aces on the night.
The Cougars and Flyers then alternated ties and one-point leads until Lewis pulled ahead on a pair of BYU attacking errors. Despite kills from Ramanis, Benson and Hughes, the Cougars were unable to overcome six errors down the stretch and fell 25-23.
Lewis tied the match after hitting 0.316 and holding BYU to 0.192.
The Cougars’ attack found new life as they hit at a clip of 0.750 to win the third set 25-17. After consecutive Lewis kills BYU led 9-8. The Cougars responded with a 3-0 run behind kills from Browne and Ramanis along with an ace from Hughes.
A bad set and service error from the Flyers, coupled with another Browne ace, helped BYU roll to a six-point lead at 17-11. The Cougars would open a match-high eight-point lead at 24-16 following a Benson kill. The Cougars registered 13 kills to the Flyers’ 10 while holding Lewis to a 0.316 clip in the third.
After building a 2-1 match lead, BYU hit 0.433 and cruised to the win. Back-to-back Ramanis aces gave BYU a quick 7-2 lead before a collection of Cougar errors and a Lewis kill helped the Flyers tie it at 11.
Ramanis resuscitated the Cougar attack with three-consecutive kills. BYU further bolstered its lead and ultimately put the match away with a 6-1 run. Ramanis, Taylor and Hughes combined for a resounding block to finish the set with the 25-17 victory.
BYU (2-0) remains at home for two matches versus Fairleigh Dickinson on Jan. 20-21. The Cougars will battle the Knights on Friday at 7 p.m. MST on BYUtv/BYUtv app.
BYU to host Liberty and McKendree in opening weekend of 2023 season
PROVO, Utah — BYU hosts three teams to begin the 2023 campaign, including Lewis University, McKendree University and the University of California, Irvine. Since it is not a true round-robin tournament, BYU will only face two out of three teams (McKendree and Lewis).
The Cougars are a combined 21-4 against McKendree and Lewis, including 19-3 all-time and 10-1 at home against Lewis and 2-1 at home against McKendree.
Since NCAA play began in 1990, BYU is 23-10 in season openers, 24-9 in home openers and 10-3 in home season openers.
The Cougars will be facing McKendree University from Lebanon, Illinois for just the fourth time in program history in their home opener. McKendree is coming off the best season in its program’s nine-year history. The last matchup between the Cougars and the Bearcats took place in 2019 at the Smith Fieldhouse where BYU lost 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 23-25, 22-25). Meanwhile, Lewis is ranked No. 14 in the AVCA’s coaches preseason poll.
BYU has been picked to finish sixth in the MPSF by the conference’s head coaches. The Cougars last MPSF title was in 2021.
The Cougars lost three-time All-American Davide Gardini from last season. In 2023, BYU features a young team, with nearly 70% of its roster filled with lower-classmen (freshmen or sophomores).
BYU keeps four of its starters in Mitchel Worthington, Kupono Browne, Gavin Julien and Miks Ramanis. Worthington enters the 2023 season in his fifth year as a Cougar due to COVID-19 eligibility. In the 2022 season, Coach Olmstead had 16 different starting lineup combinations.
BYU has six newcomers this season, including five freshmen. Five are true freshman and the other is senior setter Heath Hughes who transferred from Grand Canyon University.
BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead is beginning his eighth season leading the men’s volleyball team. With a 133-50 (.726) overall record, he has the third highest Division I men’s volleyball win-loss% out of all active D-1 head coaches. The four-time MPSF Coach of the Year, Olmstead added a new staff member to his squad in 2023. Otavio Souza will serve as a new men’s volleyball assistant coach who comes with experience from coaching at Cal, Saint Mary’s and Missouri State. Olmstead helped BYU to 3-straight NCAA Final Four appearances for the first time in program history (2016-2018).