PROVO — It took some time and a completely new identity out of halftime for BYU to defeat lightly regarded Cal Baptist in five sets (22-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-14, 15-10) Friday night in the Smith Fieldhouse.
The Lancers entered the Smith Fieldhouse with a 3-9 record and according to Cougar middle blocker Futi Tavana, BYU simply overlooked them.
"The stats show that (Cal Baptist) is not very good and we took them a little light," said Tavana. "It took us a while to get fired up and go, and we can't do that. We turned it on when we needed to, but we were a little disappointed with how we started off."
The first couple of sets were marked by unusually long volleys as the Lancers were able to dig out most of what the Cougars served them. BYU made a bit of a comeback late — making the first set competitive before getting it handed to them in the second.
BYU trailed throughout the second set, with the Smith Fieldhouse uncommonly quiet. The team was out of sorts, lacking emotion and just about everything else.
"We were just all out of system — we were all out of sync," said Tavana. "No one was on the same page — we weren't passing it well … every aspect of the game. It was frustrating because the harder you tried the worse it got."
At halftime coach Chris McGown didn't scream or yell at his team, but calmly told them they simply needed to get back to the basic principles that eluded them during the first half. The team leaders, such as Tavana, also made it a point to talk more and fire up their teammates..
"I'm not a real vocal person — it's not really in my realm to yell and to get all rowdy," said Tavana. "I took it upon myself to try and be a better leader — teammates look up to me, even if I don't think that they do, and I think it started with the upperclassmen getting loud and leading."
BYU completely dominated the second half — pulling away midway through the third set before completely dominating the fourth set. The match ended with Tavana getting high above the net for one of his 12 kills.
Tavana and fellow senior Rob Stowell contributed 12 and 11 kills, respectively, with Tavana leading the team with seven blocks. Leading the team in kills was freshman Josue Rivera with 14. BYU was again without star outside hitter Taylor Sander, who is still two weeks away from playing after sustaining a broken hand.
With the win BYU moves to 10-3 and will take on Cal Baptist tonight in the Smith Fieldhouse.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company