BYU's Joe Kauliakamoa led the team with eight digs on the night against No. 4 Stanford. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PALO ALTO -- Playing in the home of the defending national champions, the BYU men's volleyball team fell in five sets (21-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 17-15) to the Stanford Cardinal, Friday.
"Stanford is a great team and we enjoyed playing in a great atmosphere," said BYU interim head coach Rob Neilson. "We had some opportunity to close out the match but in the end, we were just one play short. I was proud of our effort tonight and we'll learn from our mistakes as we look to execute at a higher level."
True freshman Taylor Sander led the Cougars with 17 kills, hitting .270. Teammate Joe Kauliakamoa had 55 assists and also led the team with eight digs.
In the fifth set, BYU led 7-6 on a Robb Stowell service ace and extended that lead to a match point at 14-12. Back-to-back kills from Stanford's, Brad Lawson evened the score at 14. Taylor Sander set up a third match point with a kill to make it 15-14 but the Cougars committed consecutive hitting errors and Stanford blocked BYU's final attack to win 17-15.
The Cougars and Cardinal proved to be equal competitors as they traded set victories in the first of a pair of matches against each other this weekend.
Homestanding Stanford took set one, 25-21 with BYU keeping it close all the way and leading the attack on a 15-13 kills total. BYU’s Joe Kauliakamoa had 14 assists in the first set.
BYU fought back and dominated set two, winning 25-17. The Cougars hit .318 in the set and recorded a 94 percent sideout percentage (17-18).
Set three was close again with neither team taking a lead of more than two points the entire game. BYU came close to taking the win at the end, tying the set at 19, 20, 21 and 23 before the Cardinal took the last two points on kills by Brad Lawson and Spencer McLachlin.
The Cougars took a 7-3 advantage to start the fourth set with back-to-back kills from Otavio Souza and two blocks by Alex DaPron, leading to an eventual 25-19 victory. Souza led the fourth set with four blocks and three kills. Freshman Taylor Sander also had three kills in the fourth.
Stanford outhit BYU .292 to .237 but the Cougars dominated from the service line, recording six aces to zero from the Cardinal and four fewer errors.
BYU will play the second match in this weekend's series tomorrow, Saturday Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. PT on Stanford's court.