PROVO -- Locked in an offensive struggle for the first three games, the No. 5 BYU men's volleyball team finished strong in defeating No. 8 Ball State 30-28, 30-27, 23-30, 30-20, Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse. With the win the Cougars sweep the back-to-back home matches against the Cardinals and push their record to 15-5, while Ball State falls to 14-5.
For the match BYU hit .250 (59 kills with 28 errors on 124 attempts) to BSU's .169 (53-33-118). The Cougars also outblocked the Cardinals 16.5 to 13.5.
"I really like it when we can hit .250 and still win the match," said head coach Carl McGown. "They had a chance to get a good video session of us in, and we had a good video session of them. So we knew each other really well, and it got to be a brawl out there."
After a Rafael Paal kill and service ace put the Cougars up 2-0, to start the first game, BYU slowly built a 20-14 lead on the strength of a 4-0 run on Chris Gorny's serve. The Cardinals returned the favor as Tom Tegethoff and Matthew Denmark had consecutive double blocks on Cougar All-American Mike Wall as BSU narrowed the BYU lead to 22-19. After a Cougar timeout, the Cardinals scored two points to draw to within one, at 22-21, but BYU never fell behind as Tegethoff was stuffed by Wall and Gorny to end the game.
Game two was a close affair, but the BYU blocking was the difference as it compiled 6.5 blocks in holding BSU to a .188 attack percentage.
The Cougar attack sputtered in the third game, and the Cardinals capitalized with thier best attacking game of the match. BSU outhit BYU .393 to .133, and the Cardinals were led by Paul Fasshauer's six kills and Kyle Weindel's five kills to cut the Cougar advantage to 2-1.
BYU displayed its collective all-around play in the fourth game, as it led from start to finish. Highlighted with nine kills by Wall, the Cougars jumped out to lead the Cardinals by as many as 12 points at 28-16. BYU held BSU to a -.037 attack percentage while it hit .355 to close out the match.
"I'm happy that our defense is getting better, and our serving was very effective this weekend," McGown said.
Wall spearheaded the Cougar attack with a match-high 21 kills on 39 swings (.308), while Gorny had 10 kills on 17 swings (.471) along with nine blocks. Paal and Luka Slabe powered the BYU service game with three aces a piece.
BSU was led by Fasshauer with 12 kills on 18 swings (.556) and Weindel also with 12 kills.
With the weekend sweep of the Cardinals, BYU now holds a 7-4 record all-time versus BSU.
The Cougars have now concluded their regular season non-conference schedule, and will next be in action when they host MPSF opponent Cal-State Northridge, March 22-23, in the Smith Fieldhouse. Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. (MST).