Cougars drop 3-1 contest to No. 10 Lewis

(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

ROMEOVILLE, Ill.—Despite leading late in the final set, No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball couldn’t hold on against No. 10 Lewis and fell 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23) Saturday night.

“Ultimately we won one of the most important games within the match,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “I thought we served better and passed better than they did. They were unbelievable when put into trouble, and they got themselves out of trouble with a bunch of very good principal swings. We just simply couldn’t stop them the way they stopped us.”

The loss was BYU’s second of the weekend after dropping a 3-0 contest to No. 7 Loyola Chicago Friday. The Cougars are 0-2 on the season.

Taylor Sander led BYU with 15 kills, while freshman Kiril Meretev and sophomore Michael Hatch led in blocks with six apiece. Sander also had a team-high four service aces. Tyler Heap set a new career high of 33 assists.

BYU had 10 blocks to Lewis’ 12 and hit .210 on the night.

The Cougars went into the fourth set down 2-1, and Lewis (1-1, 0-0 MIVA) picked up the advantage early. After tying the score twice, BYU took the lead with a service ace from Hatch. The Flyers answered with a 4-0 run to go up 15-12. Trying again to get back in the set, Hatch threw down a kill and teamed up with Meretev for a block to tie the score 18-18.

BYU snatched the lead again 20-19 on a Sander ace. The Cougars fought to keep the lead as Lewis tied the score four more times, but an attack error put the Flyers on top 24-23. Lewis took the match on a block.

Trouble started in the first set for the Cougars. With BYU in the lead 14-12, the Flyers pulled off a kill and service ace to tie the score at 14. A series of three ties ensued before Lewis blocked Phil Fuchs to take the lead 18-17. The Flyers increased that lead to five on a six-point scoring streak. Devin Young broke the streak with a kill for the Cougars, and Josue Rivera kept up the momentum with another kill to cut the score to 22-20.

Two Lewis errors held off the end of the first set, but BYU couldn’t prevent the 25-22 Flyer set victory.

The Cougars let Lewis take an early 6-3 lead in the second set. A Flyer service error and back-to-back aces by Rivera tied the set at six. Tied at nine, BYU took back the lead on a block by Hatch and Meretev.

BYU skipped ahead 14-10 on kills by Sander and Rivera and another Hatch-Meretev block. Lewis inched back within one, but two BYU blocks cut off the advance with a kill. Meretev put the Cougars in position to take set point with a block and ace, and BYU took the second set 25-22 on a Lewis service error.

Neck-and-neck to start the third set, service and block errors by the Cougars allowed the Flyers to take an 8-5 lead. BYU made up the different with a block by Rivera and Hatch, followed by a Sander service ace to tie the score 8-8. The Cougars couldn’t capitalize on their chance to take the lead, allowing Lewis to regain its three-point lead on a kill, 14-11.

The Flyers kept up their three-point lead through the end of the set, taking the third set 25-21 for a 2-1 overall lead before taking the match in the fourth set.

“We’re still trying to find some chemistry, and we’re still trying to figure out a few things,” McGown said. “But we had a few bright spots, I thought. Jake Langlois came in, just a raw freshman, and handled himself pretty well, and I thought we served better tonight.”

BYU returns to Provo for its home opener Friday against conference foe Cal State Northridge at 7 p.m. MST. The Cougars will also host Long Beach State Saturday at 7 p.m. MST.

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