(Photo by Isabella Torgenson/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – The No. 3 BYU men's volleyball team lost in a nail-biting five sets to No. 12 UC Santa Barbara after coming off a 3-1 win against the Gauchos on Friday.
"A lot of credit to Santa Barbara," said head coach Chris McGown. "They found some momentum in the third set and they kept going. They played really well, were almost mistake free and did a nice job."
For the first time this season, BYU had four players with double-digit kills. Robb Stowell led the team with 16, followed by 13 from Josue Rivera who also contributed a career-high 15 digs for his second double-double of the season. Senior Futi Tavana added 11 kills, and Russ Lavaja had a season-high 10 while adding a season-high two aces.
Senior Joe Kauliakamoa and freshman Jaylen Reyes both contributed eight digs. Kauliakamoa's were a career-high and Reyes' were a season-high.
The Cougars won a deciding first set, 25-18, after not trailing the entire set. Stowell led the team with four kills on the set. Lavaja helped the victory with two aces in a row to take the set's largest lead at 15-7. Lavaja also had a team-leading three blocks in the set.
The Cougars were victorious again in the second set, winning by a score of 25-19. Redshirt freshman Rivera had a game-high six kills, with a .667 hitting percentage to lead the attack in the second.
UC Santa Barbara came out swinging in the third set with a 4-0 lead to begin the set. Dylan Davis had a perfect hitting percentage and four kills to help the Gauchos, 25-17. The UCSB momentum continued into the fourth set as they took it 25-19. Austin Kingi led the way with 7 kills for UCSB in the fourth.
In an exciting fifth set, the two teams battled back and forth, tying eight times. BYU led by as much as four with a 12-8 score but the Gauchos took back the momentum to win 15-13.
"We didn't make the swings we wanted to make at the times we wanted to make them," McGown continued. "I thought we really lost composure but I'm hoping that all of this is educational for us and that we can figure some things out, and we're better for going through it. I think we will be."
BYU will be back in action against No. 10 Pepperdine on Friday, March 2nd at 7:00 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.