Cougars fall in five to Rainbow Warriors

(Photo by Todd Wakefield/BYU Photo)

HONOLULU—No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball fell to No. 10 Hawai’i 3-2 (16-25, 19-25, 26-24, 25-18, 15-12) Friday, snapping a six-match win streak.

“Looking at the match, there were two halves,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “I thought we played really, really well for about two and a half sets, and then they played well for about two and a half sets. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes, and we’re looking at this as just an opportunity to see how we can be better in an under-pressure environment.”

BYU vs. Hawai'i Box Score

It looked as though the Cougars (18-5, 18-2 MPSF) would finish off the Rainbow Warriors (14-10, 12-9 MPSF) in a quick three-set match after winning the first two sets 25-16 and 25-19, but a tight third set gave Hawai’i the momentum it needed to make the comeback and win the next three sets.

“It was a great crowd, really loud,” McGown said. “We hadn’t been in an environment like that on the road this season, so it was good for us to feel that and see how we responded.”

Three Cougars had double figures in kills. Taylor Sander led the way with 16, Tim Dobbert recorded 11 and Josue Rivera had 12. Sander also had 12 digs for his third double-double of the season. Devin Young was in on six of the team’s 10 blocks.

Rivera, Dobbert and Hatch forced a Hawai’i attack error to launch the match, and the Cougars soon found themselves ahead 3-1. Sharp hitting by Dobbert, Sander and Young kept BYU safely ahead. BYU increased its lead to 10, taking a 6-1 run for a score of 21-11.

The Cougars kept their momentum, and Young finished off the set 25-16 on a kill. Dobbert and Young both finished the first set hitting 100 percent, with Dobbert collecting four kills and Young collecting three.

Ahead 6-3 to start the second set, BYU let Hawai’i's Brook Sedore score on back-to-back kills to bring the Warriors within one point. Both teams struggled with serving through the set, with the Cougars racking up five service errors and Hawai’i six. 

BYU finally strung together a trio of points off Warrior attack errors, going up 14-10. The Cougars turned that into a 7-1 run capped by a Rivera and Young block for an 18-11 lead. Dobbert’s eighth kill of the night put BYU at set point, and a Sander kill took the set 25-19 for the Cougars.

The Warriors got off to a 4-3 start in the third frame, their first lead of the match. Kills by Hatch and Dobbert made it a short-lived BYU deficit as BYU went ahead 5-4. The Cougars couldn’t put a comfortable distance between them and the Warriors. A kill and a BYU attack error tied the score at 12. Hawai’i kept pace, tying the score at 13, 14 and 15 before taking the lead on a kill.

Five tied scores later, Tyler Heap teamed up with Young for a block that gave the advantage back to BYU at 21-20. Sander pushed the Cougars into match-point position on a kill, but a Hawai’i kill tied the score at 24 and a BYU error turned the lead over to the Warriors. Hawai’i took the set 26-24 on another error.

Back-to-back kills by Young and an ace put BYU ahead 3-0 in the fourth set, but more errors put the Warriors in a 7-7 tie with the Cougars. The Warriors then leapt ahead 9-7. BYU couldn’t get oriented, allowing Hawai’i to push ahead 17-11. The Cougars never got closer than five points the rest of the set, as the Warriors wrapped it up 25-18 and tied the overall score 2-2.

In the final set, BYU fell behind 6-2. Hawai’i made the difference 11-6 with the help of an attack error. A 4-1 run by BYU cut that lead down to 12-10, but the Cougars couldn’t keep up as the Warriors rolled through to a 15-12 set win and a pair of blocks and a kill.

BYU and Hawai’i play again Saturday at 7 p.m. HST. The match will be broadcast on OC Sports and streamed live on ocsports.tv and nbcsportsradiohawaii.com. Streaming links and live stat links are available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.