Conference play is rolling as we get into the meat of the men’s volleyball season. Catch up on the top headlines from the last seven days.
Lewis On The Rebound
What a difference a week makes.
After losing to McKendree on Friday, Feb. 7, Lewis had the rest of the weekend off, and then turned around last week and won back-to-back games over Ohio State and Ball State to move up a spot to No. 5 in Monday’s AVCA Top 15 Poll.
The Flyers’ redshirt senior opposite Ryan Coenen then earned the national player of the week honor. He tallied his third double-double of the season against Ball State, collecting 20 kills and 10 digs. On the week, he maintained a .483 hitting percentage with an average of 5.00 kills per set.
Redshirt junior middle Tyler Mitchem also continued to impress. He had 13 kills with zero errors, hitting .684, and six blocks against Ohio State. On Saturday, he contributed 12 kills and eight blocks.
UC San Diego’s record-breaking season continues
The Big West sponsored men’s volleyball for the first time in 2018, and in the previous two seasons, UC San Diego failed to win a single conference match, going 0-10 in 2018 and 2019. All that changed Saturday night, however, as the Tritons won their first Big West match, downing No. 5 UC Irvine in five sets.
“Heading into the fifth set, we talked about being 2-2 with the No. 5 team in the country on their court,” UCSD head coach Kevin Ring said. “We went out with that in mind, fought really hard and just kept battling and making plays. We made some adjustments with different guys on the court that did some nice things for us.”
Once again Kyle McCauley led the way for the Tritons, breaking his previous career-high of 21 kills with 24 against UC Irvine.
Strong serving saw UCSD hold an 11-6 advantage in aces, while UC Irvine had the upperhand in blocking (14-6).
No. 2 BYU got a win, despite missing two key players
On Friday, BYU maintained its undefeated record with a sweep of Grand Canyon on the road, and they did it without star opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez, who did not travel with the team to Phoenix, and middle Felipe de Brito Ferreira, who left the first set of the match with a leg injury.
Fernandez ranks second among all players with 5.47 points per set. When asked about the reason for his absence and when he would return to the team, head coach Shawn Olmstead didn’t share many details.
“(Gabi’s) part of our team,” Olmstead said in an interview with the Daily Herald. “He is still a very huge part of our team. I’m not going to get into those things. We keep those issues pretty internal and we think that’s the right approach. We love Gabi and we’re excited for him to be a part of our team and that’s the way we’re going to move forward.”
Ferreira did not practice this week and Olmstead didn’t give an estimate for when he would be back in action.
Sophomores Alex Ah Sue (opposite) and Branden Oberender (middle blocker) replaced the absent and injured starters against Grand Canyon, with Ah Sue collecting nine kills, hitting .438, and Oberender scoring four kills on just five attempts to hit .800, in addition to leading the team with six block assists.
This weekend, the Cougars will host MPSF opponents Concordia Irvine and USC.
Purdue Fort Wayne and George Mason rankings fall after upsets
Over the weekend, then-No. 9 Purdue Fort Wayne and then-No. 13 George Mason got bested by unranked teams, and their ranking in this week’s AVCA poll suffered accordingly.
Fort Wayne lost to not one but two unranked MIVA teams last week, falling to 6-4 and No. 14 in the poll, following road losses to Lindenwood and Quincy. George Mason hosted Harvard and split results, playing the Crimson on back-to-back nights. Friday, the Patriots won in five, but lost in four on Saturday.
“Hats off to Harvard, they played a very good match today,” head coach Jay Hosack said after Saturday’s contest. “We just did not execute the way we need to in order to beat them. These two matches show that anybody can beat anybody on any given night.”