It was a chance to give a few guys some playing time. And when they got that game-time experience, the subs showed they can definitely play.
No. 3 BYU hosted San Diego in the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday night, but they weren’t very good hosts as they ousted the Tritons with a 25-15, 25-21, 25-15 effort.
“It was a chance for us to play some guys. I was an opportunity for us to create some depth more than anything. To get a feel for that in a match environment is different than anything you can do in practice,” BYU coach Chris McGown said after his team defeated San Diego handily in the first two sets and subbed in some bench players in the third.
“We were able to play a lot of guys, and they were able to come in and play well,” added senior outside hitter Taylor Sander. “They have to learn how to play in games, and they did a nice job off the bench. It was fun having those guys come in and compete with us.”
BYU didn’t appear to have subs playing in the third set as they ran out to a huge lead after a 6-6 tie early on. And the bench put together some solid numbers with a .556 hitting percentage in Set 3 and 5.5 blocks in the same set.
“We had a nice night offensively, and we did a good job in that third set defensively, getting the block going,” McGown said.
That block was led by Joe Grosh, who finished the set and the game with four block assists to lead the team.
“We held them under .100 hitting (in the final set). That makes for an easy win,” added Sander, who noted the solid blocking and defensive effort by the players in the third.
But it wasn’t just the third set that BYU played well. The entire match was solid start to finish as the Cougars put up attack percentages of .435 and .412 in the first two sets, while holding their opponents under .300 and under .400 respectively.
BYU was never really challenged in the first set and never looked back after going on a four-point run from 11-10 to 15-10. The second set was a bit closer but though the two teams were tied at 21-21 after a kill by San Diego, they turned on the afterburners to ran away with the final four points of the set, finishing things off on a kill by Robbie Sutton for the 2-0 lead.
Sander finished with 10 kills on a .556 hitting percentage. Matt Underwood added six kills with a .556 hitting percentage, and Michael Hatch hit .667 with four kills in the balanced effort by the Cougars.
The Cougars had no receiving errors in the match.
The Cougars are now 15-4 overall and 14-2 in the MPSF to lead the league. Their next match is against Cal Baptist at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 22.