Smith Fieldhouse Provo UT 84606
PROVO -- The BYU men's volleyball team extended its current win streak to five straight games and kept its MPSF title hopes alive after knocking off ninth-ranked Cal State Northridge on Friday in three straight games, 30-21, 30-27, 30-25. With the win, the Cougars improve to 16-5 on the season, including a mark of 10-5 against MPSF opponents. With the loss, the Matadors drop to 12-11, 7-10.
"I think you could say we had a monumental advantage tonight," BYU head coach Carl McGown said. "Eckhard Walter, one of the nation's top players, did not play tonight. That was a huge advantage for us, but I though they did a nice job of hanging in there."
All-American Mike Wall had a match-leading 17 kills on the night, hitting 17-of-25 (.520). Joaquin Acosta added 10 kills, while also hitting over .500. Acosta had just one error on 17 attempts (.529). The Cougars kept CS Northridge off guard all night with impressive serves. BYU committed just eight service errors, while dialing up six aces, including a match-high three aces from Rafael Paal. Freshman setter Carlos Moreno added two. Defensively the Cougars out-blocked the Matadors 13.5 - 8.5, led by Paal and Moreno who each had six blocks on the night.
"I was pleased with a lot of things," McGown added. "That was by far our best serving night of the season. We hit some nice balls, forced them to go outside, and even picked up a few aces. I thought we did a nice job serving."
In game one, the Cougars jumped out to a commanding 10-5 lead after posting a 6-0 run early in the game. BYU was able to maintain the six-point lead through most of the game until the Matadors came storming back behind Ozer Ozkaya's kill to cut the BYU lead to just 22-19. That was as close as CS Northridge would get as the Cougars went on another scoring run to increase their lead to 27-20. After a Mike Wall service error, BYU middle blocker Chris Gorny racked up one of his five blocks on the night to give BYU a 28-21 advantage. After an Ozkaya error, Gorny put away the overpass to give the Cougars the 30-21 victory in game one.
Game two was more of the same with the Cougars holding a 26-20 lead late in the game. The Matadors would not go down easy as they turned in four straight points to cut the lead to just 26-24. BYU crept out to a four-point advantage after Paal picked up his third ace of the night, but CS Northridge would score back-to-back points to make things interesting at 29-27. On the game's final play, Nils Nielsen was called for a back-row violation, giving BYU the 30-27 victory.
In the final game of the match, the Cougars held a slight 24-20 advantage when Jonathan Alleman came off the bench to record three blocks and help BYU take a 28-21 lead. At 29-22, the Cougars gave up three straight points, but managed to end things when Wall picked up 17th kill of the night.
The two teams will square off again on Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse. Match time is slated for 7 p.m. (MST).
PROVO -- Riding a four-match win streak, the No. 4 BYU men's volleyball team will host No. 9 Cal State Northridge this Friday and Saturday in its return to Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. Both matches will be played in the Smith Fieldhouse and are scheduled for 7 p.m.
"We think we're getting better," said head coach Carl McGown. "But we're always anxious to find out if we're getting better in a competitive environment. It's always nice to play a top 10 team such as Cal-State Northridge to find out how good we are."
The Cougars (15-5, 9-5 MPSF) are coming off a two-match weekend sweep of Ball State, which they won with relative ease, 3-0 and 3-1. BYU's blocking and serving games came alive over the weekend, as the team combined for 26.5 blocks and nine service aces over the two matches.
Individually, sophomore middle blocker Chris Gorny is continuing to grow into his starting role. In the two matches against the Cardinals he accumulated 19 kills on 28 swings with only three hitting errors (.571), and defensively he led a staunch Cougar effort in compiling 15 blocks.
All-American and National Player of the Year candidate Mike Wall continues his season-long consistency in averaging a team-high 4.77 kills per game with a .327 attack percentage. He also stands third on the team in aces (.24), digs (1.27) and blocking (.91) per game.
CS Northridge (11-10, 7-9) is coming off a pair of weekend losses to No. 3 Hawai'i, and the Matadors host Rutgers-Newark today before traveling to play the Cougars. The Cougars have won nine consecutive matches against CS Northridge, and BYU holds a 12-11 all-time edge.
The Matadors are led by senior opposite side hitter Eckhard Walter who averages 5.11 kills per game with a .330 attack percentage. On March 13, Walter was honored as MPSF Player of the Week in leading CS Northridge to wins over Long Beach State and UC San Diego.
"It should be a fun and very competitive match," McGown said.
The Cougars are currently fourth in the MPSF standings, but BYU will finish the season with a string of eight conference matches, and McGown knows anything can happen.
"We think we still have a great chance in achieving a high post-season seed," McGown said. "All the teams in front of us, UCLA, Pepperdine and Hawai'i have matches against each other, and we still have to play Hawai'i at the end of the season -- it's going to be an exciting finish."