(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah –Straight sets was all that was needed as the No. 5 BYU men's volleyball team defeated No. 10 Pepperdine (25-22, 25-23, 25-20) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday for their first home match sweep of the year.
"Anytime we get a block, it's huge, and the crowd goes wild," said BYU outside hitter Taylor Sander. "We're one of the best blocking teams in the nation. That really helps our momentum and helps our energy throughout the game, and especially tonight. Getting a big block is a big momentum changer and we were able to control the momentum tonight."
Sander led all players with 13 kills and six digs. Robb Stowell added eight kills as Russ Lavaja, Josue Rivera, and Futi Tavana all had seven.
Lavaja led all players in the match with six total blocks and is now third on BYU's all-time career total blocks list. Tavana joins Lavaja on the all-time list in second place, just five blocks away from being the all-time leader.
The Cougars took set one, capitalizing on late miscues and costly errors by the Waves. After the Waves tied it at 21-all, the Cougars reeled off five of the last six points to win the set 25-22.
Pepperdine gained the momentum right back to start the second set, taking an early 5-2 lead. After a seesaw battle with several long rallies, the Cougars took their first lead of the set at 12-11. Up 24-23, setter Joe Kauliakamoa blasted a kill to take the set and 2-0 lead in the match. Kauliakamoa finished the match with four kills, 35 assists and seven digs.
In set three BYU jumped to an early 6-2 lead behind kills from Tavana and Rivera but Pepperdine roared back to take a 10-9 lead. However, Sander tied it right back with a crushing kill. After ten ties in the final set, BYU reeled off five straight points for the sweep.
The Cougars will play their last two home of matches, of this 8-match home swing, next weekend against the Pacific Tigers.