(Photo by Marcos Escalona/ BYU Photo)
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Ben Patch and Taylor Sander combined for 34 of the Cougars’ 44 kills to lead the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team to a sweep at No. 9 Cal State Northridge (25-20, 25-22, 25-21) Friday.
Patch led the Cougars (16-3, 15-2 MPSF) with 18 kills and a .483 attack while adding four blocks. Sander joined Patch in double-digit kills with 16 and a .400 clip. Sander tacked on an ace, nine digs and a solo block.
“I thought we did a really nice job offensively,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “After a long lay off you’re curious to see how the guys will respond in a match because we haven’t played in a while. We did a nice job defending some of the things they did tonight.”
The teams were locked in a tie at the start of the first set. Down 11-12, the Cougars scored three straight to take the first two-point lead in the set. After a long rally, Patch pushed BYU ahead 21-18 with a kill down the middle. Back-to-back Cougar points positioned BYU at set point and a kill from Josue Rivera finished it off, 25-20.
The Cougars out hit the Matadors (10-9, 8-9 MPSF) .440 - .056 in the first set while Patch recorded eight kills on nine attempts with no errors.
Set two started in similar fashion with a 6-6 tie before BYU broke out of the exchange with two points from Ryan Boyce. The Cougars extended their lead to 13-8 after a pair of kills from Jaylen Reyes and Northridge errors. The Matadors stayed with the Cougars and went on a 3-0 run to cut into the BYU advantage, 19-17. Kills from Patch and Sander ended the streak but a 4-0 Matador run tied the contest. BYU responded with three unanswered points followed by a kill from Sander to end the set, 25-22.
Northridge took a 10-8 lead in the third set and maintained the advantage to move in front 18-15. An error by the Matadors and a BYU block put the Cougars back within one. Sander tied the game at 18 and 19 until a kill from Andrew Heap gave BYU its first lead since the initial points of the set. In front 22-21, the Cougars wrapped up the night with the last three points. Patch secured the match victory with a kill to take the third and final set 25-21.
“It was uncharacteristic of this team to miss so many serves but we shrugged that off and came back and kept on playing,” McGown said. “That's been the identity of this team; keep working hard and keep playing and doing what we do and good things are going to happen. We exemplified that tonight.”
The Cougars continue their stay in California with a Saturday matchup with No. 4 Long Beach State at 7 p.m. PDT.