PROVO – After dropping the first set, the third-ranked BYU men’s volleyball team took the next three sets to top the Cal Baptist Lancers (22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 28-26) for the second night in a row Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"There was a little bit of focus lost midway through some of those sets," said BYU coach Chris McGown. "When we decided to be focused the whole way through, I think that was the big difference. We made a conscience choice to be energetic. After CBU made a big play we just refocused. We did a good job not letting them go on any runs. Beyond that, I thought we handled any kind of offensive push from them rather well."
Senior opposite Robb Stowell led all players with 16 kills. Junior setter Ryan Boyce posted 10 digs and directed the Cougar offense with 48 assists. Junior middle blocker Russ Lavaja’s led all players with eight blocks. Freshman outside Josue Rivera contributed 15 kills, seven digs and five blocks.
Cal Baptist went up 5-1 to start the first set, but with senior middle blocker Futi Tavana serving, BYU was quick to answer with three points of its own to come within one.
The Cougars and Lancers exchanged points to bring the set to an 8-8 tie and with a kill by Rivera, BYU took its first lead of the night. Balanced scoring brought the set to 17-17 when the Lancers came back on top at 18-17. Cal Baptist then put themselves up by four, the largest lead of the set. After trailing by four, a kill by Stowell and two Tavana blocks closed the gap to 24-22, but BYU was not able to hold on, dropping the first set 25-22.
The Cougars came out strong in the second, keeping a consistent lead over the Lancers. Stowell hit a big kill to put BYU up 15-10, the largest lead to that point. The Lancers came within three but were unable to stop the Cougars, who went on to take the set 25-21.
BYU took the lead in the beginning of the third set until Cal Baptist went up 12-11, its first lead since the initial point of the set. BYU quickly took back the lead, 13-12 thanks to a block by Lavaja. The Cougars remained in the lead the rest of the set. Freshman opposite hitter Phil Fuchs put the game away for BYU, 25-19.
The Cougars’ momentum carried into the fourth set as BYU never surrendered after jumping out to a quick 3-1 lead. Cal Baptist worked its way back to tie the score at 20-20. The two teams exchanged points until Fuchs hit a big kill for a 24-23 BYU lead.
With three match points on the line, the Lancers held on until Stowell set up the Cougars’ fourth match point. With an error by Cal Baptist, BYU wrapped up with a final 28-26 score.
Cal Baptist had three players post double-digit kills and Aaron McCalmont had 11 digs for the Lancers.
BYU returns to action next weekend when it hosts UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
Whitney Weekes works in BYU Athletic Communications as the tennis sports information director. She can be reached at email@example.com.