It's really nice getting the chance I did tonight to play the entire match and hopefully show some things I can do. —BYU outside hitter Andrew Lincoln
PROVO — No Brenden Sander, no Leo Durkin, no problem for the No. 5-ranked BYU men's volleyball team in its straight set win (25-22, 25-22, 26-24) over Barton on Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
BYU coach Shawn Olmstead chose to rest his two senior standouts throughout Saturday's match, along with regulars such as Erik Sikes and Miki Jauhiainen, while getting good looks to several players who don't normally garner much playing time.
"We're happy about it and that was our plan going in," Olmstead said of Saturday's plan to sit several starters. "We got a few touches for some guys who don't normally get to play for us right now, and stick with them through some rough moments, and so it was good. I was glad to see them battle a little."
Most of the battling came throughout the third set when the visiting Bulldogs held a slight lead until the final stages, when Olmstead's seldom-used players rallied and made sure the match lasted no longer than three sets. Ending things for good was middle blocker Price Jarman and outside hitter Andrew Lincoln combining for a block which proved the final match point.
"It was awesome, and it was against a guy who really stuffed me early in the match. So that was fun," Lincoln said. "We were trying to get back at him the whole match, so then to finally get him for the match point — it was awesome."
Lincoln is a talented 6-foot-7 sophomore from Phoenix who likely would start for a lot of programs around the country. But at BYU, with the talent level the program attracts, Lincoln and several other talented players will have to bide their time.
"It got a little frustrating early on, but it's been really good because now you can see the future and the coaches are great helping us out and keeping us confident, even when we're not playing all that much," Lincoln said. "So it's really nice getting the chance I did tonight to play the entire match and hopefully show some things I can do."
Lincoln ended with a career-high 10 kills on an impressive .353 hitting percentage while freshman phenom Gabi Garcia Fernandez led all scorers with 12 kills. Other seldom-used players stepping up to the challenge on Saturday included sophomore setter Wil Stanley, who played the entire match in place of Durkin, and junior middle blocker Christian Rupert, who earned praise from Olmstead after, along with freshman libero Zach Hendrickson
"We like what Zach did and it was fun to see Rupert in the middle," Olmstead said. "He's a veteran older guy who hasn't gotten the opportunities, so it was fun to see that. It was fun to see all of it."
While Olmstead stuck to the plan of letting his reserves battle through all the tough moments, he admitted the plan, or at least his thoughts, may have changed had Barton come out on top in the third set.
"I'm not going to lie, I wouldn't be surprised if those thoughts would begun to go through my head, but fortunately they didn't tonight," Olmstead said. "But if we had to play a few more sets, then we needed to play a few more sets. That's the way we looked at it and the guys responded great and we're real happy with how it played out."
With the win, BYU improves to 5-1 on the season, and next travels to take on UC Irvine for two matches next Friday and Saturday.
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