PROVO — With its pride and No. 2 ranking on the line, the BYU men's volleyball team bounced back from a tough 3-2 loss Friday night to sweep No. 13 Lewis University in straight sets (25-22, 25-16, 25-14) Saturday night in front of an electric crowd at the Smith Fieldhouse.
BYU 6-foot-8 freshman Ben Patch followed up his personal-best 16 kills Friday with a team-high 12, alongside Taylor Sander's 12 and right above fan-favorite Russ Lavaja's 11. The three paced a balanced attack as the Cougars (3-1) notched a .525 hit percentage and nearly doubled 1-4 Lewis' assist total, 50-27.
Saturday night's match paralleled Friday's through the first two sets. At the end of a back-and-forth, tightly contested first set, the Cougars eked out a close battle. BYU pulled away for an easier win in the second set.
That's where the similarities between Friday's match and Saturday's match ended, though. Instead losing and letting Lews back in the match (as they did Friday), the Cougars left no doubt in Set 3 on Saturday, posting an 11-point blowout in the deciding frame.
BYU's turnaround in the stat column was just as dramatic as the point total. The Cougars more than doubled their hit percentage from the previous night (.525 to .203). The Cougars also helped themselves, reducing their service error total from 21 to 12 and tying their kill total (50) in two fewer sets.
The Cougars were helped out by the fact that the Flyers' Geoff Powell didn't shine Saturday like he did Friday. On Friday night, Powell torched the Cougars with 24 kills and a hitting percentage of .647. On Saturday night, both totals were nearly three times lower.
The power and precision of the Cougars was impressive, and the Cougars showed mental resolve. Rather than playing tight and conservative, BYU showed why it is ranked No. 2 as it came out loose and ready to feed off the energy of the crowd.
Leading 11-10 in the third set, the Cougars continued a tough volley as the ball ricocheted off the pipes in the rafters. The Cougars kept at it, thought, and converted the point. They would reel off six straight to go up 18-10 and never looked back.
The Cougars next welcome UC Irvine to the Smith Fieldhouse for their next match Friday at 7 p.m.
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