PROVO, Utah – After dropping the first set, the No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball team took the next three sets to top the Cal Baptist Lancers (22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 28-26) for the second night in a row, Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"There was a little bit of focus lost midway through some of those sets," said BYU coach Chris McGown. "When we decided to be focused the whole way through, I think that was the big difference. We made a conscience choice to be energetic. After CBU made a big play we just refocused. We did a good job not letting them go on any runs tonight. Beyond that, I thought we handled any kind of offensive push from them rather well."
Senior opposite Robb Stowell led all players with 16 kills. Junior setter Ryan Boyce posted 10 digs and directed the Cougar offense with 48 assists. Junior middle blocker Russ Lavaja’s led all players with eight blocks. Freshman outside Josue Rivera contributed 15 kills, seven digs and five blocks.
Cal Baptist went up 5-1 to start the first set, but with senior middle blocker Futi Tavana serving, BYU was quick to answer with three points of its own to come within one. The Cougars and Lancers exchanged points to bring the set to an 8-8 tie and, with a kill by Rivera, BYU took its first lead of the night. Balanced scoring brought the set to 17-17 when the Lancers came back on top at 18-17. Cal Baptist then put themselves up by four, the largest lead of the set. After trailing by four, a kill by Stowell and two Tavana blocks closed the gap to 24-22 but BYU was not able to hold on, dropping the first set 25-22.
The Cougars came out strong in the second, keeping a consistent lead over the Lancers. Stowell hit a big kill to put BYU up 15-10, the largest lead to that point. With a 21-17 score, the Lancers came within three but were unable to stop the Cougars as BYU went on to take the set 25-21.
BYU took the lead in the beginning of the third set until Cal Baptist went up 12-11, its first lead since the initial point of the set. BYU quickly took back the lead, 13-12 thanks to a block by Lavaja. The Cougars remained in the lead the rest of the set. Freshman opposite hitter Phil Fuchs put the game away for BYU, 25-19.
The Cougars’ momentum carried into the fourth set as BYU never surrendered after jumping out to a quick 3-1 lead. Cal Baptist worked its way back to tie the score, 20-20. The two teams exchanged points until Fuchs hit a big kill for a 24-23 BYU lead. With three match points on the line, the Lancers held on until Stowell set up the Cougars’ fourth match point. With an error by Cal Baptist, BYU wrapped up with a final 28-26 score.
Cal Baptist had three players post double-digit kills and Aaron McCalmont had 11 digs for the Lancers.
BYU returns to action next weekend when it hosts UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
FIrst of 8-Straight Home Matches This Weekend
The No. 3 BYU men's volleyball team begins its 8-match home swing with two matches this weekend on Feb. 17 and 18 against the Cal Baptist Lancers at 7 p.m. MT both nights. The Cougars currently lead the Division I-II men's volleyball nation in average home attendance.
The Cougars and Lancers meet in Provo for the 12th time in the 14-match all-time series. BYU leads the overall record 11-3 against Cal Baptist.
BYU is riding a 6-3 overall record this season, on a two-match winning streak, with its most recent wins coming over UCSD on the road last weekend. Senior Robb Stowell leads the Cougar offense with 139 kills followed closely by teammate Josue Rivera who is contributing 107. Seven other BYU players also join Stowell and Rivera with double-digit kills on the year.
The Cougars are outblocking their opponents this season 139.5 to 72 and currently lead the NCAA for their blocks per set.
The Lancers come to Provo with a 3-9 season record after splitting last weekend’s play with a win over UC Santa Cruz and loss against Lees-McRae. Aaron McCalmont leads the Lancer offense with 112 kills and 14 service aces. Nine other Cal Baptist players are also recording double-digit kills this season so far.
Both matches will be broadcast live on BYUtv and online at byutvsport.com/gameday for free. Both games will also be simulcasted on BYU radio, which can be listened to online, and have live stat accompaniment through the BYU men's volleyball schedule page or BYU men's volleyball twitter.
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