PROVO, Utah — BYU men’s volleyball notched its second victory of the weekend, taking down Concordia University Irvine 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22) in the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday.
The Cougars now hold an overall season record of 7-11 and 2-4 in the MPSF.
“We are learning how to be assertive on the court," said sophomore outside hitter Kupono Browne. "With a new team, it always takes some time to become cohesive and that’s what these two matches were for us. We are learning not to be surprised by our success. Now, our focus is on practice during our bye week and making sure we set ourselves up to perform the same when it’s game time.”
The starting lineup featured head coach Shawn Olmstead’s 12th variation in 18 matches, as the Cougars rebuild after losing five starters from last season. Starters included senior outside hitter Davide Gardini, Browne, sophomore setter Bartosz Slawinski, sophomore middle blocker Gavin Julien, senior libero Mitchel Worthington, freshman middle blocker Teon Taylor and freshman outside hitter Miks Ramanis.
Dominating offensively for the second night, BYU racked up 55 kills and a .330 hitting percentage. Meanwhile, CUI put up 42 kills and a .260 clip.
Three BYU team members hit double-digit kills. Gardini led the team with 19 kills and a .385 clip. Ramanis slammed 15 kills, followed by Browne with 14.
Browne started the night with a kill. Two CUI errors later and BYU led 3-1. The Eagles tallied two kills, but a 4-0 run by the Cougars, including kills from Julien and Browne, extended BYU’s lead to 10-4. The Eagles battled back with a 6-1 run featuring two aces by CUI’s Mclain Mott. This reduced BYU’s lead to 11-10.
Browne snuck in a kill before three kills by the Eagles tied the set at 13-13. A BYU attack error put CUI ahead before Gardini slammed two consecutive kills to put BYU in the lead at 15-14. The teams tied three more times until a 8-1 run by CUI widened the gap to 24-18. This run included five BYU errors.
A service error by the Cougars sealed the set for the Eagles at 25-19.
Browne quickly slammed a kill to put the Cougars on the board. CUI’s Jonathan Carlson followed with a kill and an ace of his own to put the Eagles on top. Two errors apiece kept the teams tight before four combined kills by Ramanis and Gardini paired with two aces by Julien fueled BYU on a 7-1 run. This put the Cougars ahead 11-8.
From there, BYU gave up two points due to service errors, but Ramanis and Browne tallied kills to keep the Cougars ahead. Shifting the momentum, CUI racked up two kills and an ace to tie the set at 15-15. Ramanis responded by smashing four kills to put BYU back in the lead at 21-17.
Opportune kills by Taylor, Browne and Julien allowed the Cougars to take the set at 25-21.
BYU started with a 3-1 run, including an ace by Ramanis and a kill by Browne. Gardini and Julien contributed kills to widen the gap to 7-3. At 10-7, the kills and service errors rolled in from both sides, dominating the next 18 points, allowing the Eagles to trail closely behind.
Three BYU aces, accompanied by three Gardini kills, inched the Cougars to set-point at 24-16. A service error by the Eagles gave BYU its second set-win of the night at 25-18.
The Cougars started the set with three errors, but Browne managed three kills. This put BYU ahead slightly at 4-3. A BYU service error tied the set at 4-4 before five combined kills by Gardini and Julien allowed the Cougars to break away slightly at 11-8.
Three straight CUI errors and a Ramanis kill set BYU off on a 4-1 run. However, CUI’s Erik Boisvert notched three quick kills to keep the Eagles close behind at 15-14. The teams traded points, tying at 16-16, 17-17 and 18-18, before a kill by CUI’s Carlson gave the Eagles their first lead of the set at 19-18.
The lead ping-ponged as the tied scores continued, until Gardini put up two final kills and an ace to secure BYU its third set-win at 25-22 for the victory.
Coming up, BYU will face MSPF opponent Pepperdine for a two-match series in Malibu, California, starting on Friday, March 25 at 6 p.m. PST.