Encore, encore! Last night certainly was a good show. I won’t say it was good volleyball, except for Lewis’ Geoff Powell, but it was nothing if not entertaining. Now we go on to the second half of the two-night doubleheader. What will both squads bring to the return engagement?
Eric Fitterer was again part of the Lewis starting lineup. Greg Petty was announced among Lewis’ starters, as his older brother Jay was still feeling the effects of a turned ankle from a night ago, but Jay actually ended up with significantly more playing time in this match.
The first set started off with a long string of trading points. On the rally ending 5-5, Ben Patch made a good attempt digging a hard hit from the Lewis side. Taylor Sander pursued the ball looking up at it directly — and very nearly ran into the referee stand. The Cougars started off involving middle blocker Russ Lavaja a fair bit more than they did last night. BYU went up two for the first time at 8-6 with Boyce taking a joust on the right side. Sander took one of his strongest swings of the weekend on the rally ending 10-7 to give the Cougars a three-point lead on a play beginning with a great pancake on their side. At 12-9, BYU scored their eighth kill on eight swings — hitting 1.000 as a team. Patch picked up his fifth kill to put the Cougars up four at 13-9. His sixth kill sent it to the automatic timeout at 15-11. He and the team continued hitting 1.000.
Sander finally dropped BYU off the four-digit hitting line with an attack error on the first point back from the timeout. The deficit remained at around 3 points for some time after. Patch remained perfect through his first 7 swings, but was eventually dug. Lewis’ Jay Petty, swinging a bit better than yesterday but probably still feeling the effects of what ailed him 24 hours ago, hit the antenna on the rally ending 22-18 to put BYU back up four. Devin Young’s hitting error for the Cougars, into the net, reduced the deficit to two at 23-21, and a wide ball from the left side made it 23-22 at BYU’s timeout.
Josue Rivera brought it to set point at 24-22 with a very nice back-row kill from the pipe. Fitterer gave it away with a wide ball hit from the left side – out and untouched, putting BYU up 1-0. The first set was very much defense need not apply, with BYU hitting nearly .500 and Lewis well over .300 as well, in stark contrast to last night’s match.
Bit of a funny moment on the first point of set 2, as Jay Petty reached over the net to send back a BYU overpass. He instantly turned to the up referee as if to ask if he was going to be called for a fault. He wasn’t – the point went to the Flyers. Another amusing moment on the rally ending 2-1, with Patch scoring a kill that he almost needlessly kept alive, as the block went out of bounds. This set was more defense optional, just as the first. BYU took an early two-point edge at 3-1 and it was sideout-a-palooza until Patch managed to sneak a ball into the left-back corner to put the Cougars up 10-7. Their advantage extended to 13-9 at the Flyers’ timeout.
BYU came out strong out of the timeout, extending to 15-10 with an emphatic kill from Lavaja (to which the libero Jaylen Reyes responded by jumping into his arms like Yogi Berra) and a double block by Lavaja and Boyce. A Flyer hitting error made it 16-10, and Rivera’s first ace of the season made it a 7-point advantage for BYU and Lewis’ second timeout. Jay Petty sided the Flyers out coming back, but it was pretty well damage done. Patch, showing a little bit more staying power than earlier in the year, didn’t commit his first hitting error until the rally ending 19-12. But BYU poured it on late, closing the set out 25-16.
Gotta say, I generally quite like BYUtv’s webcasts. High quality video and production values, free, knowledgeable peeps on commentary. But yeah, commentary….dude needs to realize how racist he sounds making light of the name of Lewis middle blocker Yiwei Zhou. After just joking about it last night, he did seem to finally realize how stupid he sounded tonight, or at least I hope he realized it.
Set three was very even early on, with two sides splitting the first 12 points. Patch continued to have probably his best match of the season, continuing to contribute well into the third where last night and weekend he faded as the match went on. Ties occurred at 7 and 8 as well before Lavaja put the Cougars up two at 10-8. On the rally ending 13-10, Fitterer appeared to have an emphatic kill, but the BYU libero Reyes kept it alive to lead to BYU’s point. Devin Young scored on the next ball on what was effectively a no-look roll shot. The automatic timeout came a point later at 15-10.
Back from the timeout, Boyce made what looked like a setting mistake to the left side, setting the ball above the head of even the up referee. But Sander rose up and got it, and he was pumped when he landed! A hitting error by Jay Petty ran it out to 17-10, and it was pretty clear there would be no comeback tonight. The Flyers finally sided out at 17-11, but the Cougars just kept pouring it on, taking an even further dominant third set win.
#2 BYU d. #13 Lewis (25-22, 25-16, 25-14)
So we’ve seen a lot from both of these teams this weekend. Last night, but for one player, both sorta played like crap. And Geoff Powell wasn’t bad or anything tonight, but he certainly came back down to planet Earth at 8/3/21 for .238. Tonight, both offenses executed well, but this perhaps necessarily means the two defenses didn’t really show up. There wasn’t much blocking tonight. Lewis played it tight in set 1 but looked horribly outmatched in 2 and 3. BYU as a team were 52/10/80 for a flatly ridiculous .525 as a team. Lavaja and Patch were both error-free, at 11/0/13 for .846 and 12/0/15 for .800 respectively. Lewis, again, weren’t awful on offense tonight, checking in at 30/11/71 for .268. Play a little defense and that can be good enough to earn a W. Not freaking tonight, though.
I’m apprehensive towards future predictions for both of these teams. Both showed some pretty significant weaknesses this weekend, though BYU fans have got to be happy to see a complete match from Patch for essentially the first time in his college career. Doesn’t by any means mean those mercurial sort of performances he had in his first three matches as a collegian are now a thing of the past, because he’ll end up having nights like that again, with little doubt. The MIVA is probably the weakest of the three major conferences, which means Lewis will surely have an easier time of it once they get into conference play, but just a 1-4 start to their non-conference surely can’t have been their plan. And it has to make one think they’re ripe for the plucking by Loyola or Ohio State.
BYU next play host (yes, they do have quite a few home matches at the front part of their 2013 schedule, another reason to be just a bit bearish on them) to UC Irvine next weekend. It’ll be a matchup of two top-5 teams to be sure, but it won’t be #1 vs. #2 after next week’s polls come out. Lewis, in sharp contrast to BYU, will end up having played nine non-conference matches, as they next week travel to Penn State and St. Francis. The following week they have their home opener against NJIT and also play George Mason before finally starting MIVA play the week after that (February 1, to be precise).