(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – Ben Patch’s second-career double-double pushed No. 4 BYU men's volleyball to a five-set victory (28-26, 25-23, 13-25, 22-25, 18-16) over No. 2 UCLA at the Smith Fieldhouse Friday night.
“It is exciting. I’m happy for our guys,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “They served well and they served aggressively. Today we were confident at the service line. It’s hard to see some of the tough moments the guys went though. I have to figure out why we go through those moments.”
After UCLA came back down two sets to none, BYU jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set. However, UCLA responded with four-straight points to take the 6-5 advantage. Coming out of a timeout, Patch killed the ball down the line to even the score at 6-6. He took over the fifth set for the Cougars, scoring six of eight points, including a stuff block to tie the game 13-13. BYU fought off UCLA’s match point at 14-13, battling to its own match point at 16-15. The teams traded points until Price Jarman sealed the victory with a solo block, taking the set 18-16.
The Cougars handed the Bruins their first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation loss. Despite trailing UCLA (9-2, 6-1 MPSF) in every category except total attacks, BYU (8-2, 3-1 MPSF) won the 11th straight-home match against the conference rivals. This is the second five-set match for BYU this year, the first win.
Patch led all players with a season-high 28 kills on a .422 clip. He also tied his career high in digs with 11 for a double-double. His only other double-double came in his freshman season in the MPSF Championship game against Long Beach State.
Jake Langlois and Brenden Sander also reached double-digit kills with 13 and 12, respectively. Leo Durkin dished out 48 assists, while libero Erik Sikes matched Patch’s dig total with 11.
In the first set, the Cougars’ first five points were all scored off of the Bruins’ service errors. After an ace from Durkin tied the set, BYU won a long rally to lead for the first time, 8-7. Capped off with an ace from Sander, BYU went on a 5-1 run to push the lead to 20-16 and force a UCLA timeout. A couple in a row for the visiting team then tied the game at 23-23. The Cougars had two set points, but the Bruins scored two in a row to make it set point for them, 26-25. A kill from Patch sparked the home squad to a 3-0 run to take set one 28-26, winning the set with a block from Langlois and Jarman.
UCLA led early in the second set, but a 5-1 run gave BYU the advantage. Two kills from Langlois at the end of that run forced the Bruin timeout with the Cougars up 11-9. The two teams stayed within one or two of each other for the rest of the set. UCLA got back on top 17-16, but BYU responded. A pair of kills from Patch pushed the Cougars to a 21-18 lead after putting together four points in a row. A rally lasting about 51 seconds resulted in a point for the home team after Patch tooled it off the Bruin block, giving BYU set point, 24-21. Despite UCLA battling back within one, Langlois drilled an attack out of the back row to win the second set 25-23.
Behind two aces, the Bruins opened up the third set strong, taking an early 3-0 lead. Olmstead called a timeout with UCLA leading 8-3. Sander killed the ball on the end line out of the timeout, but the Bruins kept the pressure coming. They went up 13-6, forcing Olmstead to call the final timeout to regroup. However, the Cougars were never able to bounce back, dropping the set 25-13.
BYU came out firing in the fourth set. The Bruins stayed one or two points ahead of BYU for the first half of the set, never pulling away. The Cougars finally made a move after Durkin slammed home an overpass kill. That sparked BYU on a 4-1 run to take its first lead of the game, 15-14. Tough serving from UCLA’s Micah Ma’a scored four straight for the away team, taking the 20-16 advantage. Kiril Meretev came off the bench, firing away two kills to get the Cougars within two points. However, it was not enough as the Bruins took the fourth set 25-22, forcing the decisive fifth set.
The two teams will play again Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be streamed live on theW.tv.