PROVO — After dropping the first set to a recharged Cal State Northridge the Cougars re-gathered to win the next three, taking Friday's match in four sets (23-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-18.)
Setter Ryan Boyce played a key role in helping the Cougars settle down and then cruise to victory.
The Cougars came out strong, taking an early lead in the first set, but could never push the lead to more than two points before the Matadors tied it up at 14-14 and eventually pushed the lead to 23-19. Cal State Northridge stunted a late comeback attempt by the Cougars to take the first set by two points.
"I wasn't sure that we started slow so much as we just made some mistakes," said coach Chris McGown. "I thought we had good energy, I thought we had good focus. … We just served poorly and received poorly. I think (Cal State Northridge) just acclimated better and were a better team tonight than they were last night."
McGown made a key substation early, subbing out setter Joe Kauliakamoa for Boyce, and the game turned the Cougar's way shortly thereafter.
"Boyce came in and really started playing well for us," said McGown. "I think that was a turning point for us — having a little different rhythm in our setting. He started to find our hitters a bit better and our middles in a way that Joe (Kauliakomoa) wasn't able to do and that was a good change for us."
Taylor Sander again led the Cougars on the stat sheet with 21 kills, followed closely by Rob Stowell, who finished with 17. The Cougars again dominated their opponent in total team blocks with 14.5 to just three for the Matadors. Futi Tavana led the team with seven total blocks, followed by Russ Lavaja and his six.
With the win, the Cougars move to 20-5 on the year and 16-4 in conference play. They travel to Los Angeles next week to take on 13-3 UCLA.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company