Last week the Cougars struggled against two top 10 teams on their first road trip of the season. This week the Cougars returned home to try and right the ship. The task wasn't insurmountable, but it wouldn't be easy as they would face Cal State Northridge, and then take on top ranked Long Beach State.
Cal State Northridge
After facing a long week of practice, with sick and injured players, the Cougars started off slow and fell behind 9-5 early in the first set. The Cougars went on a 5-0 run to take the lead but the Matadors responded to take back the lead at 22-21 before the Cougars took the set 25-23. BYU came out strong in the second set with a 4-1 lead before Cal State tied it at eight. With a tight second set, the Cougars were finally able to finish the Matadors off with a 25-22 win. BYU again started strong in the third set, but this time they continued to pressure the Matadors and led 16-8. Cal State tried to make a comeback but it fell short as they lost 25-15. With the sweep of the Matadors, the Cougars won their first match of the year and opened the conference with a win. Taylor Sander had 14 kills for the game and Matt Underwood added 10. Underwood had career highs in kills and blocks with four. For more on Underwood and his breakout performance, take a look at the Know the Bro profile by Matt Curtis.
#1 Long Beach State
With the convincing win against the Matadors, the Cougars came into the game against the 49ers with a confidence they hadn't shown against the other ranked teams. Unlike Friday night, BYU came out strong in the first set when they led 5-1 before allowing LBSU to close the gap to 16-14. With a 23-20 lead, the Cougars finished strong with two consecutive kills to take the first set 25-20. LBSU wasn't about to let the Cougars start strong again so they took a 4-1 lead early and kept the lead until the Cougars tied the game at 15 on an LBSU error. BYU took their first lead at 17-16 before giving up the game to the 49ers 25-23. With the two teams looking at a critical third set, BYU jumped out to an 11-7 lead and played point for point, leading to a 21-17 advantage. BYU capitalized on two Sander kills and another LBSU error to win the set 25-20. In what BYU hoped to be the final set, LBSU had no intention of going away as they led 4-3 and and had the set tied at eight. With a few kills by the Cougars, they took the lead at 12-9 and didn't relinquish it. With another 25-20 set, the Cougars completed the upset and gave the 49ers their first loss of the year. Tyler Sander again led the team as he had a season-high 24 kills. Tyler Heap added 47 assists for a career high.
The Cougars will hit the road to face UC Irvine on Friday, January 17th and then to UC San Diego on Saturday, January 18th. Both games will start at 8 pm MST.
- BYU vs LMU Game Recap: Cougars tame the Lions in the second half, 91-68.
- Kyle Van Noy: An open letter to family, friends, and fans.
- Know the Bro: Matt Underwood
- Did BYU's football independence diminish into their own MWC: Maybe We Choked (on that decision)…?
- What you need to Know: BYU vs LMU II (Basketball Edition)