Matadors Get Bullied by Cougars
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).