Scary thought for the day: Ryan Millar almost went to Cal State Northridge.
Instead, the 6-foot-7 middle blocker went to Brigham Young University and, not coincidentally, the Cougars defeated Cal State Northridge, 16-14, 13-15, 15-8, 15-5, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match Wednesday night at Northridge.
The NCAA freshman of the year last season, Millar pounded 37 kills and a stake into the Matadors’ heart.
“We knew how good he was when he we saw him play as a sophomore in high school [at Highland] and we wanted him from that day,” Cal State Northridge Coach John Price said. “I think we finished second on him.”
Actually third. BYU and Pepperdine were ahead of Northridge but, as Price said, “We might as well have finished 10th.”
Millar was held in relative check for the first two games, as the unranked Matadors (6-6, 3-6 in MPSF play) served well and kept top-ranked BYU (9-1, 7-1) out of its offense.
But the serving broke down and Millar became unstoppable in the final two games, especially the fourth, when he had 13 kills.
"[Northridge] offered me a full ride and that’s rare in men’s volleyball,” said Millar, who had a .593 hitting percentage and was two kills shy of the school record set by BYU assistant Hugh McCutcheon. “It was a big decision.”
Coming in with three consecutive MPSF losses, Price decided to shuffle the Matadors’ lineup.
Senior Dan Nash--who almost did not play this season but changed his mind earlier this month--started his first match at setter, replacing Dan Fisher.
It worked at first. The Matadors nearly won the first game, then took the second after blowing an 11-5 lead.
After that, the Matadors were caught flat-footed too often.
Jason Hughes, who missed BYU’s 15-8, 14-16, 15-11 victory over Northridge last month in the UC Santa Barbara tournament, had 22 kills for the Matadors.