Taylor Sander posted a career-high 4 service aces in the Cougars victory over UC San Diego on Friday. (Photo by Ryan Faulkner)
PROVO, Utah -- The No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team defeated the No. 13 UC San Diego Tritons in straight sets (25-17,25-16, 25-22) Friday in the Smith Fieldhouse. The victory gives the Cougars a 2-0 record on the weekend, a 9-3 record in league play and a 13-3 overall record.
“The difference between last night and tonight was preparation,” said BYU interim head coach Rob Neilson. “We were more prepared as players and coaches. We were lucky to get a win last night. UC-San Diego played really well and our performance was frustrating so we had to refocus coming into tonight.”
Taylor Sander led the BYU attack with 13 kills and a career-high four service aces. Junior Alex DaPron contributed eight kills while Futi Tavana added seven kills, five of which came in the first set. It was also a career night for setter Ryan Boyce as the sophomore recorded a career-high 33 assists.
Tavana got the Cougars off to an impressive start as the junior middle blocker recorded three kills, a service ace and block assist early on to lead BYU to a 10-7 lead. Despite UC-San Diego’s efforts to contain the Cougars, BYU continued to extend its lead in the set as Tavana would add two more kills on perfect hitting to give the Cougars the set victory, 25-17.
The Tritons came out strong in game two taking a 4-3 lead, but a kill followed by three consecutive service aces from Sander gave BYU a 7-4 lead and forced UC-San Diego head coach Kevin Ring to call a timeout in an attempt to stop the BYU run. Despite their efforts, the Tritons were unable to cut the lead to less than three points the rest of the set. Sander would finish the set with four kills to lead the BYU attack as it took game two, 25-16.
A balanced attack by the Cougar frontline led BYU in the beginning of game three. Sander, Robb Stowell and Otavio Souza each recorded at least one kill while Souza and DaPron contributed a service ace each to give the Cougars an 8-4 lead and force another UC-San Diego timeout.
BYU would lead by as many as six thanks in large part to hitting by Stowell and DaPron, but the Tritons would battle back to cut the Cougar lead to one, 14-13. Once again Sander, the freshman outside hitter, would take over with a service ace and two kills to give BYU a 16-13 lead. Still, UC-San Diego kept coming back for more, pulling within one, 20-19. The Cougars were able to prevent the Triton comeback this time though as a kill by Sander would seal the deal, 25-22. Sander finished the set with seven kills on .667 hitting.
The Cougars will travel to Los Angeles next weekend to take on the Trojans of USC with matches on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.