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Mount Olive nearly pulls major upset of BYU in men’s volleyball; UCLA, GCU, Webber win

There almost — almost — was the upset of all upsets in NCAA men’s volleyball Thursday.

But in the end, traditional powerhouse BYU of the MPSF pulled out a 24-26, 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 15-12 victory over visiting Mount Olive of Conference Carolinas. Mount Olive gets another crack at the Cougars, ranked No. 8 by the AVCA, on Saturday.

Also Thursday, No. 2 UCLA of the MPSF improved to 4-0 with a sweep of CSUN, a Big West team finally opening its season; Grand Canyon swept Benedictine Mesa; and Webber International got past Edward Waters in five.

There are 25 matches on Friday’s schedule. To watch any being shown, go to the VolleyballMag.com TV & Streaming Listings for viewing links. 

There are five matches involving Big West teams. No. 3 Long Beach State plays host to No. 9 Ohio State of the MIVA, No. 14 UC Irvine is home for its rematch with No. 10 USC, UC Santa Barbara plays host to No. 4 Penn State of the EIVA, No. 12 UC San Diego is at the EIVA’s NJIT, and CSUN is home for Cal Lutheran.

Also in the MPSF, No. 5 Pepperdine is home for No. 7 Lewis. Pepperdine is in Malibu, California, where the temperature at 7 p.m. Pacific is expected to be down to 63. In the Chicago area, home to the Lewis campus, the forecast calls for 11 degrees. Also, No. 6 Grand Canyon is home for The Master’s University, and Concordia goes to St. Katherine College.

Also in the MIVA, No. 11 Loyola plays at independent Lincoln Memorial, Quincy is home for Missouri Valley College, Purdue Fort Wayne is home for Saint Francis of the EIVA, and McKendree goes to King of Conference Carolinas.

Two other EVIA teams are in action. Sacred Heart plays twice, first against Emmanuel of Conference Carolinas, and then against Lasell, and Charleston plays independent Limestone. 

The Conference Carolinas slate shows North Greenville at Alderson Broaddus, Lees-McRae home for Benedict, and Barton at Queens.

BYU (3-2) held on for its 24-26, 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 15-12 home victory over Mount Olive (2-1), but the match took a tough turn for the Cougars at 10-10 of the first set when leading attacker Davide Gardini was lost to an ankle injury. Gardini, who was perfect in his only two attacks, averages 3.43 kills per set and leads BYU in aces.

But freshman Miks Ramanis stepped up and finished with a career-high 23 kills with four errors in 34 attacks to hit .559. He added an assist, an ace, six digs, and three blocks, one solo. Another freshman, Anthony Cherfan, made his first start and had 12 kills, hit .320, and had an ace and five digs. Zeo Meyer had a kill, 52 assists, an ace, 16 digs, and a block as his team hit .402. And another freshman, Luke Benson, had 10 kills, hit .348, and had an assist, an ace, five digs, and four blocks, one solo. 

“After Davide’s injury, we really understood that we needed to step up,” Ramanis said. “We worked as a whole in the first set. All-around, we were committed to what we had to do. We didn’t let it rattle us.”

Mount Olive, which earlier this season beat George Mason of the EIVA and independent Queens, got 17 kills from Tobi Azeez, who had two assists, two blocks, and three digs. He had no aces but six errors. Eric Visgitis had nine kills and hit .400 to go with an ace and two blocks, and Luke Visgitis had seven kills with one error in 16 attacks, an ace, a dig, and three blocks, one solo. 

“Tonight’s match showed a lot of great things for us and what’s to come this season,” Mount Olive coach Ali’i Keohohou said. “We didn’t have the numbers we hoped for, but the fight, energy, and pure enjoyment of playing in such an awesome atmosphere was awesome to see from the guys. I’m looking forward to another battle Saturday.”

UCLA swept visiting CSUN 27-25, 25-18, 25-22. The Bruins, who hit .357, got 10 kills from Grant Sloane, who hit .471 and had two aces, three digs and two blocks. Ido David had eight kills, hit .462, and had two aces, four digs, and three blocks. Mile Partain had three kills, three aces, and six digs. CSUN hit .304 and got 10 kills from Griffin Walters, who hit .350 and had an ace, three digs, and two blocks. The Matadors had three aces and 17 serving errors … 

Landon Fuller of Benedictine Mesa hits against the GCU block of Jackson Hickman/Garrett Ohrenberg, GCU photo

Grand Canyon (4-2) hit .435 as it beat visiting Benedictine Mesa, which was playing its season opener,  25-16, 25-10, 25-21. Camden Gianni led with 11 kills as he hit .500 and had an assist, four aces, six digs, and three blocks, one solo. Benedictine Mesa hit .012 … 

Also, Webber International (3-3) beat the SIAC’s Edward Waters 21-25, 25-13, 20-25, 25-22, 15-13. Daniel Hermida led Webber with 10 kills, five aces, a solo block, and four digs. Tinaishe Ndavazocheva had nine kills with one error in 16 attacks, three aces, two blocks, and a dig. Gunter Perea Quevedo had seven kills in 11 errorless swings, a solo block, and three digs. Peyton Young had four kills, 39 assists, an ace, two blocks, and eight digs. Edward Waters (3-3) got 17 kills from Evens Edouard, who had two aces, a block, and seven digs. Kaelan Ingram had 13 kills with one error in 20 attacks, three aces, eight digs, and four blocks, one solo. Daniel Montero had 11 kills, four aces, and two digs …

In a match played Wednesday, USC (6-1) of the MPSF hit .397 and swept the Big West’s UC Irvine (3-4). Sam Kobrine led the Trojans with 14 kills, and Simon Gallas had 11. Kobrine hit .565 and had two assists, an ace, two blocks, and three digs. Gallas hit .455 and had an ace, four blocks, and two digs. Lucas Frassrand had eight kills in nine errorless swings, an assist, three blocks, and two digs. UCI, which hit .105, had four players with four or more kills.

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