The total match time was about one hour and twenty-five minutes. The reported attendance was 640, of which I would estimate 580 to 600 were BYU fans. This was a dramatic improvement from the previous match two nights ago, and the noise level proved it.
Prior to the match, Coach Peterson came into the stands and shook hands with several BYU fans. He thanked them for their support and attendance before sitting with his wife briefly at mid-court.
Victor Batista, Ivan Perez, Yosleyder Cala and Brian Congelliere had a slightly different pre-game routine—they were on the court dancing to the music. Batista and Perez were on their knees dancing while Rodrigo Gomes was bouncing the ball off his head and feet. All were having a good time trying to loosen up. Between games two and three, Gomes and Cala provided entertainment by hitting the ball back and forth with their head, chest and feet.
In game one, there were many miscues that allowed the Tritons to remain in the game until the very end. The two opponents exchanged the lead often and tied each other twelve times. UCSD led by as many as three points (6-9). After the last tie (26-26), the Cougars outscored their determined opponents four to one to win 30-27. BYU hit .320 to .217 for UCSD.
BYU served the ball hard throughout the match. Several of the serves bounced back to the Cougars off the initial dig/overpasses by UCSD -- many bouncing wildly high or outside. Occasionally, this returning free ball ended in a BYU attack error. Eight points for UCSD in game one resulted from BYU service errors. The Tritons returned the favor, however, with eight service errors of their own.
At one point in the first game, sophomore reserve setter Congelliere dished out five consecutive serves before UCSD could stop the rally on a kill. Congelliere performed fairly as a setter in the first two plus games. Several times Brian Rowley, Perez or Cala were on the floor for a dig.
Perez and Taylor Evans had difficulty keeping the ball inside the court on serves and attacks. Normally, Cala passes the ball well, but in this match, two of his passes went wide to the outside. Cala and Evans each registered service aces to the obvious glee of the BYU faithful.
In game two, the Tritons tied the score at 5-5 due to a miscommunication between Cala and Evans that left them facing each other as the ball dropped between them. Although this brought laughter from the crowd, it was an unfortunate end to a long volley that saw many magnificent saves on both sides of the net.
Only once did UCSD lead in this game (5-6), but they did tie the game twice before the Cougars ran away with it. They had seven series of three or four unanswered points. Again there were some great digs at the floor by Perez and Cala.
The eight service errors in game two were equally divided between long and net balls. There were four long volleys in this game, and two ended in BYU's favor. The last had two successful blocks ending the game at 30-21 in favor of the Cougs. The Tritons were just shooting too many long balls on serves and attacks to mount any sustained threat to the visiting BYU team. BYU hit .379 to UCSD's -0.120.
In game three, Coach Peterson had more of the bench playing. Perez, Batista and Cala assumed the cheerleader role. They were loud in support of their teammates as their night on the court was over. Freshman setter Chip Neff was assisting them until his call for action came when the score was 6-3. He was able to get up and assist Russell Holmes on blocks at 8-3 and 24-21. Another of his blocks went outside. Neff also had some great digs on UCSD attacks.
Gomes and Neff saw action throughout most of the third game. Although Jonathan Charette had difficulty Saturday (.111), he has a rocket launcher for kills. It is enjoyable to watch him, Cala and Perez with their kills of thunder. Rowley continued to field digs off the floor.
There were nine long volleys in this final game of the night. With the bench playing, the Tritons were tenacious. They had fallen behind 8-3, but were allowed right back into the fray. Eight of the first nine UCSD points came off BYU errors. There were others following shortly.
Although there were too many errors for the top ranked team in this game, the reserves did benefit from the opportunity to face actual combat. The experience will likely prove valuable as the season stretches on.
Through most of game three, UCSD stayed close to BYU, but for the most part, the Tritons' were gifts from the Cougars. The Cougar lead fluctuated between two and four points. The last time the game were close was at 23-21. The Tritons also got within three points at 28-25, but the game ended at 30-26. BYU hit .033 to UCSD's -0.211. It almost appeared that both teams were battling to score points for each other in this final game of the match.
The match did not yield many kills for BYU (37). No player scored double-digit kills on either team. The Cougs scored fifty of their ninety points; UCSD scored thirty-five of their seventy-four. Coach Peterson indicated much improvement was needed.