(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – Aggressive offensive play helped No. 4 BYU men's volleyball sweep McKendree (25-16, 25-19, 25-20) in its home opener Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"It's nice to be back in the Smith Fieldhouse and the guys were excited about that," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "I liked how they played from the start. They were assertive and aggressive, and I was happy with how they played."
Junior Ben Patch led the Cougar offense with nine kills on a .667 clip while senior Jake Langlois added nine kills and six digs. Tim Dobbert contributed three blocks on defense as Leo Durkin tallied 29 assists in the win. BYU improved to 2-1 overall and McKendree fell to 0-5 on the season.
Middle blocker Joseph Grosh put BYU on the board with the first kill of the night. Langlois sparked BYU’s offensive rhythm with a pair of kills followed by a kill by Patch to put the Cougars up 9-6. BYU capitalized on a Bearcat attack error to claim a 17-11 lead and force a McKendree timeout. A Storm Fa'agata-Tufuga kill increased the Cougars' advantage to eight as the Bearcats struggled to keep up. A McKendree service error ended the set 25-16 in BYU's favor.
Price Jarman and Fa’agata-Tufuga each earned aces to add to BYU’s 6-2 advantage at the beginning of the second set. McKendree answered with a kill, and the opponents traded points before the Cougars went on a 4-0 run to extend their lead to 12-5. The Bearcats fought to stay alive as they brought the score within four, but a McKendree miscue gave the Cougars an 18-13 lead. Durkin scored on a back-to-back kill and service ace to put BYU up 22-16. The Cougar defense allowed three more Bearcat points before BYU took the set 25-19 on a Jarman kill.
McKendree jumped out to a 4-1 lead to kick off the third set. The Cougars fed off the momentum from a Dobbert kill to secure the next four points and retake the lead, 5-4. Responding with a 4-0 run of their own, the Bearcats had another three-point advantage before Durkin and freshman Miki Jauhiainen teamed up for a block to tie the game at 10 apiece. A Fa’agata-Tufuga kill put the Cougars up by two, 16-14, but McKendree fought back to tie it again. Bearcat errors kept BYU ahead 22-19 before Durkin scored the Cougars’ fifth ace of the night for a four-point lead. BYU won the match 25-20 on a Langlois kill.
BYU competes against Concordia Irvine Friday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. MST and against McKendree again on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. MST. Friday’s match will be streamed live on TheW.tv. while Saturday’s match will be broadcast live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143. There will also be a neutral-site match at noon MST on Friday between Concordia Irvine and McKendree. Admission is free to that match.