Offensively, we were a little anemic to start the first two sets. I thought we found some flow offensively there with Robbie (Sutton) in the third (set.) He just kind of settled down and made some nice sets. —BYU coach Chris McGown
PROVO — The Ball State men’s volleyball team wanted to take in the unique Smith Fieldhouse atmosphere on a rare trip out West, among other reasons, in matching up against the No. 4-ranked Cougars over the weekend. By doing as much, it experienced what most teams do when visiting BYU’s home floor; getting swept on consecutive nights.
For the second night in a row, the Cougars managed to make quick work of the Cardinals, taking Saturday’s match in straight sets (25-23, 25-23, 25-19.)
That’s not to say No. 13-ranked Ball State didn’t give BYU a challenge, however. Coming out on the second night, it looked rejuvenated and more focused, leading to a bit of a slow start by the Cougars.
The first set saw BYU compile just a .125 hitting percentage while struggling to a tight 25-23 set win. It upped that percentage to .345 in the second set, but again struggled to put the Cardinals away, only doing so with a late 4-1 run to close things out 25-23.
“Offensively, we were a little anemic to start the first two sets,” said BYU coach Chris McGown. “I thought we found some flow offensively there with Robbie (Sutton) in the third (set.) He just kind of settled down and made some nice sets.”
Indeed BYU rolled in the third and final set. A .586 hitting percentage defined BYU's offensive production, with freshman Brendan Sander and sophomore Kiril Meretev making big impacts.
For Meretev, his impact was felt in a big way midway through the set when one of his vicious kill attempts fired off an unsuspecting Ball State defender, bringing the Smith Fieldhouse faithful to their feet.
“He’s got one of the best arms on the team for sure. He’s one of two guys that absolutely hits it the hardest,” McGown said of Meretev. “So It’s fun to see him come in and play good.”
Meretev finished with five kills, doing most of his work in the final set. Sander added nine kills with Matt Underwood leading the way with 11. Overall the Cougars received contributions up and down the roster in what has become a typical complete team contribution.
“It’s a really, really good group of guys that are pushing themselves in practice,” McGown said of his deep team. “And it gives us a lot of flexibility with our lineups and how we can tweak things mid-match.”
BYU also proved very good with its team block, combining for 14.5 blocks on the night. Underwood and Michael Hatch led the way in that department, each contributing six block assists.
Ball State was led by Shane Witmer, who tallied a team-high 11 kills.
With the win, BYU improves to 13-3 on the year and 10-2 in MPSF conference play. Next up for the Cougars are consecutive road matches against Stanford.
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