(Photo by BYU Photo)
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Junior opposite Ben Patch helped No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball rally past No. 14 CSUN in a four-set win (23-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-15) Thursday night at the Matadome to begin league play.
“What a great team effort and win,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I'm so proud of how the entire team responded after going down a set. They battled and stayed very composed throughout the match.”
Patch led the Cougars with 16 kills while adding seven digs. Leo Durkin set the team with 44 assists while Erik Sikes chipped in nine digs in his first match of the season. Joseph Grosh, Price Jarman and Kiril Meretev each had five blocks in the win.
Kills from Brenden Sander, Patch and Grosh helped BYU (5-1, 1-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) take a 4-1 lead against CSUN (6-2, 1-2, MPSF) early in the first set. A Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga kill kept the Cougars ahead 8-5 and a Durkin solo block extended the lead to four at 11-7. The Matadors countered, however, with a 5-1 run to tie the score at 12-all. CSUN continued its offensive attack, taking an 18-16 lead on a kill. BYU came within a point on several occasions from there but couldn’t overcome the gap as the Matadors won the set 25-23 on a Cougar service error.
Patch got the second set started with a kill and a Sander and Grosh block put BYU up 6-3. CSUN came storming backing, though, tying the set at 7-7. The two teams remained neck-to-neck from that point, staying within a point of each other until a 3-1 Matador rally gave them a 15-13 advantage. The Cougars followed that with a 3-1 run of their own, forcing a CSUN timeout as BYU led 18-17. A 5-1 Cougar rally, capped off by a Meretev kill, extended the BYU advantage to three, 22-19. A Meretev service ace then ended the set in the Cougars’ favor, 25-20.
A Patch kill helped BYU maintain a 6-5 lead to start the third set. A Grosh kill helped the Cougars with a 6-1 run to go up 12-7. A Fa’agata-Tufuga kill kept the lead at five, 15-10, and a Grosh and Meretev block extended the lead at 18-12. The Cougars continued with their dominance during the set, eventually taking it 25-17 on a Sander ace.
A Jarman and Patch block gave BYU a 5-4 lead in the early stages of the fourth set. A 4-1 Cougar run, capped off by a Fa’agata-Tufuga kill, extended the advantage to four, 11-7, forcing a Matador timeout. CSUN began piling on the errors from that point, as back-to-back-to-back Matador miscues put BYU up 17-9. A Fa’agata-Tufuga ace gave the Cougars a 10-point lead at 21-11 before Miki Jauhiainen and Fa’agata-Tufuga finished off the set and match with a block, giving BYU a 25-15 win.
The Cougars return to the Matadome Friday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. PST to once again face off against the Matadors. The match will be streamed on the GoMatadors.com website. A link to live stats can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.