PROVO — BYU's volleyball team is fielding a much different squad than last year's Final Four group that was led by All-American Taylor Sander, but the Cougars are proving they can produce a lot of the same results.
For the second night in a row the Cougars took care of UC San Diego in straight sets, taking Saturday night's bout 25-18, 25-20, 25-21. As with Friday night's match, Cougar coach Chris McGown used a variety of different rotations and his players largely responded.
“We got what we wanted this weekend, which was a lot of guys in the match,” McGown said. “It’s a little bit of a tough thing when we’re throwing this many lineups at our own guys ... but it’s a lot like our practices, so it shouldn’t be a completely foreign concept.”
McGown used 14 different players while sitting several regulars for long periods against the overmatched Toreros. As a result, no single player stood out on the stat sheet in an effort that sort of typifies this year's team.
“We got maybe some superstars in the making, but no one that’s a household name,” McGown said. “But we’re deep. We’re two or three deep at every position, so that makes me, more than anything, comfortable in bringing guys off the bench.”
BYU led throughout the first set, taking it 25-18, but ran into some trouble late in the second. After building a 24-15 advantage, the Toreros staved off five of the Cougars' nine set points before committing a service error to give BYU the set 25-20.
The third set saw San Diego perhaps build off that momentum and get off to an early lead, with BYU using almost a completely new rotation relative to the first two sets. With the Toreros leading 16-12 McGown called a timeout to regroup mentally, but not with a different lineup.
“We all came over during the timeout and I said, ‘Hey, I’m happy to let us lose this set with this lineup,’ and (the assistant coaches) all said the exact same thing. They dug themselves this hole and they’re going to have to get themselves out of it.”
His team responded and finished out the set on a 10-2 run to take it 25-21 and win the match in straight sets. Phil Fuchs provided the match-winning point with a well-placed kill.
Key for the Cougars throughout the match was a great defensive effort that provided 15 blocks while holding UCSD to a meager .051 hitting percentage. The collective effort left McGown generally satisfied and excited about his team's prospects.
“To their credit they dug it out. ... It was fun to see,” he said.
With the win BYU improves to 6-2 on the year and 5-1 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. Next up for the No. 7-ranked Cougars is consecutive home matches against Cal Baptist.
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