(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – The No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball fell to No. 7 Stanford at home on Friday night 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 20-25, 18-20) in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars were playing without sophomore standout Taylor Sander, who watched from the bench with a broken hand, but had senior middle blocker Futi Tavana back on the court after sitting out for the first seven matches this season.
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"I thought Stanford played really good volleyball tonight," said BYU head coach Chris McGown. "They have a lot of nice athletes on that team. They passed really well, were consistent all night long and were siding out at around 75 percent which is off the charts good. During the break, in the locker room we talked about two things: we have to serve a little better and be more aggressive with our swings. We need to understand that we can’t be passive against a team this good. We need to more aggeressive with our serving and passing, more so than we have been in other matches."
Tavana led the Cougars with 13 kills while Robb Stowell followed closely behind with 10 kills of his own. Russ Lavaja led the team in blocks with five in the match, including one solo block. Joe Kauliakamoa assisted on 30 points.
The Cougars got off to a slow start as Stanford took a 10-6 lead early in the first set, forcing first-year head coach Chris McGown to call a timeout. Still, BYU struggled to chip away at the Cardinal lead. Stanford would go on to extend its lead to seven with the score 17-10. Stowell, with his team trailing by six, recorded back-to-back kills to bring the Cougars within four. Strong hitting by BYU was ultimately not enough to overcome the deficit in set one.
The Cougars came out with noticeably higher energy in the second set taking an early 8-6 lead. Tavana took over in the end of set two making three key plays (a kill and two assisted blocks) in the final four points of the set for BYU. A kill by Steve Rindfleisch would give the Cougars the set victory, 25-20.
Tavana led BYU in the third set as BYU fell 25-20 with 4 kills. The Cougars also received a strong boost from the bench from Rindfleisch who contributed 3 kills in the set. The fourth set was dominated by Stanford as Cardinals took an early 9-5 lead and never looked back.
BYU will have a second chance against Stanford tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.