PROVO, Utah – Behind 21 kills from Ben Patch, No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball won its season opener 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19) over No. 3 Loyola-Chicago in the AVCA Showcase Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“The atmosphere was unreal tonight, but that's what we expect here," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "What a fun match to be a part of. So many people did a wonderful job. Leo (Durkin) was outstanding. He got the right hitters the ball at the right time. Ben (Patch) was great. His numbers were through the roof."
BYU (1-0) out-hit Loyola-Chicago (0-2) with a .333 hitting percentage to .196. The Cougars also tallied more blocks, 11 to eight. Between the two teams there were 41 service errors in the match, with the Ramblers making three more errors in that category.
In his first game since the 2013 season, Patch had 21 kills on a .462 clip. He also had two digs, two blocks and one ace. Brenden Sander also had double-digit kills in the match, putting away 12 with five digs and four blocks. Jake Langlois led the team in digs with 10 to go along with his eight kills and three blocks. In his first-career start, Leo Durkin had 44 asissts, four digs and three blocks along with one ace.
The Cougars got off to a strong start when the duo of Sander and Michael Hatch had two blocks in a row to take the early 2-0 lead. After his first attempt was denied, Patch attacked the ball again to get the kill and push the lead up to 8-5. BYU held Loyola-Chicago at bay with back-to-back kills from Patch and Langlois, making it 15-12 before the first timeout.
The Ramblers got within one point in the set before missing a serve, allowing the Cougars to take advantage of the error, scoring three unanswered points. A block from Patch and Hatch capped off the run, making it 19-15. Errors plagued Loyola-Chicago, giving BYU three points in a row and setting up set point. Langlois served an ace to win the first set 25-19.
In the second set, neither team scored more than two points in a row until the very end. The Ramblers scored two straight six times, while the Cougars scored consecutive points five times. BYU struck first in the second set with a triple block, but Loyola-Chicago responded. Patch stopped one of the Ramblers’ 2-0 runs with a powerful kill to tie it up 9-9.
After several ties and being down by one, the Cougars finally took a 16-15 lead off of a kill from Sander. Using the block, Patch and Langlois killed the ball for two points in a row, taking the 23-22 lead. Loyola-Chicago finally got a run longer than two points when it scored three unanswered to take the second set 25-23.
The first few rallies of the third set saw the two teams trading back and forth. Patch sparked the Cougars with a kill tooled off of the block. That point sparked a 6-1 BYU run, pushing the lead to 9-6. The run included two aces in a row from Langlois, who also had an ace in the first set.
The Cougars scored four unanswered points to push their lead to 18-12. Three of those points were errors from the Ramblers. Price Jarman and Durkin combined for a block on the outside to aid the run, adding to the momentum. BYU took the third set 25-19 on a quick kill in the middle from Jarman, taking the 2-1 set lead.
Errors from the Ramblers came back to bite them in the fourth set. Five of the Cougars’ first six points were from erorrs, including four service errors. Despite mistakes from Loyola-Chicago, BYU still had just a one point lead, 6-5. Sander found the deep corner for a kill from the outside, making it 10-8.
After Durkin unknowingly kept the ball alive with his head, a big dig from Langlois set up Sander to put the ball away. The Cougars then scored three-consecutive points to make it a 19-16 lead. Patch drilled a sharp-cross kill from the outside to spark BYU to finish the match on a 5-1 run. Sander came flying out of the back row to pound down the kill for the 25-19 win.
The AVCA Showcase continues tomorrow for the Cougars as they face off against No. 14 George Mason at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be streamed live on TheW.tv. Live stats will be available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.
UC Irvine vs. George Mason
No. 2 UC Irvine swept No. 14 George Mason 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-18) in the early match at the Smith Fieldhouse Friday afternoon. The Anteaters started on a quick 10-3 run before taking the first set 25-21. George Mason then fought back in the second set, keeping things close but eventually falling 25-16. UC Irvine ended the match in the last set with a 25-18 finish. Irvine brought a strong offensive attack, hitting a .300 clip and registering six aces on the match. BYU will face George Mason tomorrow at 7 p.m. MST.