#4 BYU Defeats #7 Penn State at Home

(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – After dropping the first set, the No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball team came back to win the next three sets (20-25, 26-24, 25-18, 25-18) to top No. 7 Penn State in front of a home crowd.

The Cougars (22-6) win snapped the Lions (20-4) seven-match win streak.

"If we can serve and pass against these teams is always the question," head coach Chris McGown said. "We got smoked in the serve/pass game in the first set but after that we started to get better. I think they also came back to earth because they had a phenomenal first set serving. We always talk about playing principled volleyball at the break. We’re not trying to win the match with one swing. We’re not trying to solve all these problems at once, we’re just trying to win the match in however many sets it takes by playing good volleyball."

Taylor Sander led all players with 20 kills while teammate Russ Lavaja led all players with a .636 attack percentage. Lavaja also contributed seven kills. BYU outblocked the Lions, 10.5 to 5.5.

BYU went up 3-1 to start the first set but Penn State stayed within two until it finally took its first lead at 10-9. The Cougars regained a 13-12 lead but the Lions quickly went back up 16-15. After BYU tied the contest (17-17) for the twelfth time of the set, Penn State went on an 8-3 run to grab the first set 25-20.

The Lions carried their momentum into the second set, taking a 6-2 lead. Sander had back-to-back points to put the Cougars up 12-11. After taking the lead, BYU never looked back. Penn State tied the score twice but was unable to overcome the scoring power of BYU. Tied 24-24, a Sander kill gave the Cougars the advantage. A Penn State error lifted BYU to a second set victory, 26-24.

The third set started out in a deadlock until the Cougars broke away to take a commanding 14-9 lead. The Lions closed the gap to three (20-17) but failed to come any closer to the Cougars. BYU finished on a 5-1 run with Lavaja sealing the third set (25-18) to put the Cougars up 2-1 in the match.

In the fourth set, neither team was able to get ahead by more than two points as things got started. Lavaja broke the trend to give BYU a three-point advantage at 17-14. Back-to-back Penn State errors gave BYU a larger lead at 21-16 and the Cougars secured the win on their second game point after the Lions blocked a shot out, 25-18.

The Cougars host the Lions in their final regular season match tomorrow at 7 p.m. MT. The match is Senior Day and will be shown live on BYUtv and online for free at byutvsports.com/gameday.

"Tomorrow will be an emotional night because we’re saying goodbye to four guys that mean a lot to our program," McGown said. "We’ll have to remain focus and limit our mistakes. I think it will motivate the guys and more than anything the guys that are not seniors because they really want to support the seniors."

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