Cougars Beat No. 1 Again

(Photo by Ryan Faulkner/BYU)

IRVINE, Calif. – The No. 2 BYU men's volleyball team defeated No. 1 UC Irvine in five sets (25-22, 25-19, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9) on the road, Saturday, to complete the weekend sweep and improve to 4-1 on the season. 

Senior Robb Stowell contributed a season-high 21 kills, six digs and a .472 hitting percentage to lead the Cougars. Sophomore Taylor Sander joined Stowell in double-figure kills with 18 while also adding four aces, one of which won the match for BYU.

Setter Joe Kauliakamoa tallied 51 assists and Russ Lavaja totaled a game-high six blocks. 

Behind three-straight points at the end of the set, BYU took a 25-22 win in the first for an early lead in the match.

The momentum kept swinging with BYU in the second as they took their largest lead at 17-12 after a kill from Stowell. The Cougars continued with their lead and, after an ace from Josue Rivera, eventually took the 25-19 victory.

The Anteaters, however, proved they wouldn’t be deterred as they came out in the third and right away took a commanding lead. They led by as many as seven at one point and while BYU tried to catch up, UC Irvine kept moving forward and took the convincing 25-15 victory. In the second, for the space of 10 UC Irvine points, Stowell was the only Cougar able to put points on the board off three kills.

Set four was a similar story to set three with UC Irvine leading almost the entire time. The Cougars kept it close but a 5-0 run by the Anteaters was too much for BYU as they fell 20-25 to tie the match at 2-2 and send it to a fifth set. 

In the fifth, the Cougars got up 5-2 early. Follow-up kills from Stowell, Lavaja and Quentin Smith gave them a further lead at 10-7, a lead they wouldn't relinquesh. Sander's ace gave BYU its match point for the road win. 

Zachary La Cavera was the sole Anteater in double-figure kills with 10. He also contributed four aces and two blocks. 

The Cougars are back in action next weekend when they play their first home match, against the USC Trojans on Jan. 20 and 21. 

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