BYU volleyball clinches perfect home record

2011-04-02T00:08:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:01Z BYU volleyball clinches perfect home recordMatt Petersen - Herald Correspondent Daily Herald
April 02, 2011 12:08 am  • 

The BYU emcee tried to get fans riled up, urging them to start a collective chant of B-Y-U.

The crowd had better ideas, preferring to shout, "This is our house!"

And why not? The Cougars' three-set victory (25-23, 25-20, 25-22) over Long Beach State sealed their first undefeated regular-season home record since 1998. The win capped off a dominance that, in the process, earned them one more home game: the quarterfinal round of the postseason.

"Here in this fieldhouse we have the best home court advantage in the country," middle blocker Otavio Souza said. "It's really hard to play against us right here."

Who better than Souza to laud home court? The Brazilian native went through more red tape than a customer service victim just to get here, making him appreciate Cougar nation all the more. Friday night, Senior Night, Souza left the court a winner and a loser at the same time, knowing his team had won, but he (along with four other seniors) is losing the chance to experience it for much longer. It was no surprise, then, when the tears came after he and his fellow seniors were honored following the game.

"I was thinking of everything it took to get here," Souza said. "It wasn't easy. [My family] spent hours and hours trying to figure out a way to come here and play for BYU. This has been a great experience."

Senior Alex Dapron made the night more than ceremonial, going for 10 hits and a team-high five digs in the win. On a night when junior star Robb Stowell looked surprisingly mortal (10 kills at a .250 clip, five kill errors, five service errors), DaPron, Futi Tavana and Taylor Sander showed BYU can win with balance.

"It's definitely a team sport," DaPron said. "We've got six guys on the floor. Joe [Kauliakamoa], I think he did a great job running the offense. Futi and the other guys would pull the middle and the outsides would have one-on-one. I think it was great that everybody was getting after every play, and that helped open up a lot of things."

Tavana in particular made his presence felt, going off for team highs in kills (11) and blocks (five assisted, one solo). No sequence was bigger than Tavana's consecutive points off a block and a kill respectively, which put BYU up 20-18 in the final set.

After allowing LBSU to hit .318 in the first set, the Cougars held them to just .037 and .148 in the second and third sets, respectively.

As dynamic as their defense looked, however, the BYU offense appeared equally anemic at times, especially off the serve. After erring on 15 serves in four sets Thursday night, BYU committed a whopping 18 service errors in three sets Friday. Of LBSU's 21 second-set points, only eight came on kills.

Head coach Rob Neilson plans on addressing the issue before the team's two-day series at Pepperdine next week.

"I think this season our guys have done a really nice job serving," Neilson said. "We think we can be a better serving team than we have been the past two matches. Definitely, we're going to work on those things going forward, maybe change our mindset a little bit and hopefully get back to serving at a really high level."

Next week's series marks the last games before MPSF playoffs, which begin April 23. If BYU's home success is any indication, advancing to the semifinals appears to be a formality.

"It's senior night, but we'll have the quarterfinals here at home and hopefully we'll keep rolling," DaPron said. "Hopefully our senior night is on May 7 when we get to the national championship game."

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