(Photo by Ryan Faulkner/BYU)
LOS ANGELES - The BYU men's volleyball team lost a four-set thriller (21-25, 25-17, 19-25, 33-35) to Stanford, Thursday, in the MPSF Semifinals at USC's Galen Center.
"We knew going forward that this was going to be a close match," said BYU head coach Chris McGown. "Stanford was excellent, they played well. We knew it was going to come down to a battle and it definitely was. We just didn't make as many plays as we wanted to down the stretch and that hurt us. It was an excellent match by Stanford, credit to them."
The Cougars were led by Taylor Sander's 27 kills, one shy of his season-high, and a .347 attack. Robb Stowell joined Sander in double digits with 11 kills. Jaylen Reyes contributed a game-high 16 digs and Russ Lavaja had a game-high seven blocks.
"I try to be a leader out there," Sander said. "I love taking those big swings when I'm in the moment and, tonight specifically, I was just trying hard to get my team the energy and motivation to push forward. We fell a little short tonight, didn't make the plays we wanted, and it hurt us."
The teams traded points in the first set until Stanford finally took a two-point lead at 18-16, the largest lead by any team up to that point. The lead would stay with the Cardinal until the end of the set when Stanford took the 25-21 victory. Sander led the Cougars in the first set with four kills and a .429 attack.
BYU took a commanding 11-5 lead in the second set, highlighted by back-to-back kills from Sander and an ace from Josue Rivera. Their largest lead in the set came at 17-7, after a kill from Futi Tavana, on the way to a 25-17 BYU win to tie the match at 1-1.
The Cardinal took an early 10-7 lead in the third set before the Cougars were able to cut the lead to one at 12-11. Stanford's front line responded with three-straight blocks and the Cardinal were back on top, 17-11. They didn't relinquish the lead for the rest of the match and took the set, 25-19.
With both teams hungry for more, the fourth set went much like the first as both teams traded points up to 21-21. The set tied at every point from then on out until the Cardinal were able to pull away 35-33 for the match. A block and an ace were the final two points that gave Stanford the win and advance them to the MPSF championship match.
Brad Lawson led the Stanford attack with 17 kills and seven digs. Gus Ellis his a game-high .545 and also contributed five blocks. Erik Shoji tallied 15 digs.