Sixth-Ranked Cougars Survive Scare; Hold off No. 12 Ball State, 3-1
PROVO -- The sixth-ranked BYU men's volleyball team survived a scare from 12th-ranked Ball State on Wednesday, overcoming an eight-point deficit in game four to defeat the Cardinals, 15-9, 15-11, 8-15, 15-13. The win marks the Cougars' 15th of the season on just six losses, while the Cardinals drop to 10-6. Wednesday's victory also marks BYU's 39th straight win in the Smith Fieldhouse.
"I don't know if we're still not recovered from that tough road trip," McGown said. " I'm not sure if we think we're good and don't have to play hard, or if we're just not very good. Whatever the reason, it's disappointing for me to see the lack of effort from our players.
The Cougars were led by Jaime Mayol who chalked up a team-leading 23 kills, while Joaquin Acosta and Mike Wall added 22 kills each. Setter Chris Pitzak tallied 86 assists and picked up a match-high 16 digs. Mac Wilson led the BYU front row with seven blocks, including five block assists.
The Cardinals played well behind the offensive firepower of Brian Hughes who recorded a match-high 32 kills. Tom Tegethoff added 27 kills for the Cardinals. The BSU defense outblocked the Cougars, 15.5-12.0, led by Matt Denmarks' eight blocks.
"Clearly, Ball State deserves credit for playing so well," McGown said. "But until we're able to change our effort, we've got a lot of work to do before our next match."
In game one, the two teams battled to a 5-5 tie before the Cougars started to pull ahead. Fueled by back-to-back Pitzak aces, the Cougars took a 9-5 lead and held off the Cardinals, 15-9. In game two, Ball State tied the match at 11-11 on back-to-back blocks, but Mayol's cross-court kill sparked a 4-1 run that lead to Wilson's game-winning block. After BYU took a 2-0 lead in game three, the Cardinal offense pulled away to an 8-6 lead. Propelled by Tegethoff's play in game three, the Cardinals went on a 7-2 run to close out the game. With the momentum clearly in BSU's court to start game four, the Cardinals jumped out to a 9-1 lead. The Cougars climbed back in the match on four key Cardinal hitting errors and a streak of offensive pressure that led to five straight BYU points. Tied at 12-12, the Cougars went ahead on a BSU passing error and reached match-point on a Mayol/Wilson block. Wilson completed the comeback with his seventh block of the match.
"We finally got a little excitement back into our game," McGown said. "Jaime (Mayol) did a nice job of turning things around in game four. When we started to make a run, we got some excitement back and were able to win the match."
The Cougars will take the rest of the week off before preparing for an exhibition match on Friday, March 17 against Cal. Saturday, March 18th, BYU will play host to another non-conference opponent, Rutgers. Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. (MST) in the Smith Fieldhouse.