It has been a long, five, winless weeks for BYU men’s volleyball.
But that all ended Friday evening as the Cougars walked out of the Smith Fieldhouse victorious in three sets over Concordia, marking the first win for BYU since a Feb. 4 triumph over Ball State.
It had been nearly seven weeks since BYU had secured its only other sweep of the season. Friday was just the third time this year that the school did not need all five sets to get a win.
The losing streak, snapped at nine matches, is no more and the Cougars couldn’t be happier.
“It feels great,” sophomore setter Bartosz Sławiński said of the win. “We played a great game. We are very happy. We worked on some stuff during those weeks (of losses) and we improved our game on the court. We showed it today. I’m proud of this team. … It’s a great feeling.”
Despite Concordia being picked to finish last in the MPSF preseason coaches’ poll, BYU’s recent slide had the Cougars as the team on the wrong end of the league’s standings ahead of Friday’s match with the Eagles. The win is BYU’s first of conference play, bringing the school’s MPSF record to 1-4 on the year.
Sławiński feels this is just the beginning for him and his teammates.
“I personally believe we are going in the right direction,” he said. “We will be a very, very tough team to beat at the end of this season.”
BYU looked tough to beat Friday night. Sławiński and squad were dominant in the first set, winning 25-16. The Cougars took the lead at 3-2 and never trailed again, extending their advantage to as many as 10 points. BYU’s .579 hitting percentage and four service aces proved to be too much for the Eagles. Freshman outside hitter Miks Ramanis had three of the Cougars’ four aces, getting all three during a 5-0 BYU run midway through the set.
The trend continued as BYU went on a 4-0 run to start the following set, ultimately picking up a wire to wire 25-14 victory. The Cougars added three more service aces to their growing tally, 5.5 blocks, and finished the set with 15 kills, 12 set up by Sławiński.
BYU had 15 more kills and Sławiński 12 more assists in the third set, helping give the Cougars a 25-17 win. Concordia kept things close coming out of the locker room but couldn’t keep up with BYU down the stretch. Junior serving specialist Jon Stanley subbed into the match as the Cougars scored six of the last seven points, putting the finishing touches on a win that was a long time coming.
The victory extended BYU’s winning streak over Concordia to five matches, with the Cougars sweeping the Eagles in all five.
BYU held Concordia well under its average attacks per set (27.80), an average that is good for No. 7 in the nation. The Eagles finished the match with just 63 total attacks on the evening.
The Cougars’ defense was led by freshman middle blocker Teon Taylor, who finished the night with five blocks. BYU’s offensive attack was paced by senior outside hitter Davide Gardini’s 15 kills and Sławiński’s 36 assists.
Sławiński is focused on keeping things rolling in Provo as the Cougars put the losses behind them.
“I’m super proud of today’s win and we’ll do it again tomorrow,” he said. “We’re going to go to bed very soon because we need to recover.”
BYU and Concordia will meet again, for the second of two matches this weekend, tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Provo.