(Photo by BYU Photo/Jonathan Hardy)
PROVO, Utah – Taylor Sander and Ben Patch led the #1 BYU men’s volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-23) home victory over #6 UCLA Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse.
“I thought we played every point with focus and with a nice emotional component,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “I was really proud of the way the guys came out. We played really clean volleyball and came out on fire.”
The win helps BYU improve to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. UCLA falls to 8-6 overall and 4-4 in the MPSF.
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Sander led the Cougars with 11 kills, six digs and three blocks, while hitting a .667 clip. Patch finished with 10 kills and two blocks and Russ Lavaja added seven kills and three blocks. Ryan Boyce finished with 34 assists and two solo blocks.
BYU finished the match nine errors to UCLA’s 19 errors, while out-hitting the Bruins .400 - .233.
"What I liked the most about tonight was we are learning to limit our mistakes,” McGown said. “UCLA's a really good team, and they did some nice things. We didn't make the mistakes we have made earlier in the season, so I like that trend for our team."
After sitting out the last two matches due to an ankle injury, Lavaja came out hot in the beginning of set one with a kill and a block putting the Cougars up 2-0. UCLA bounced back with a few kills to tie the game at 5-5. Midway through the set, Sander led the Cougars with a series of kills giving them an 8-7 lead. The Cougars went up 16-12, following UCLA’s fifth hitting error. Despite the Cougars’ comfortable lead, UCLA cut the lead to one, 22-21, following a UCLA ace. Tied at 22, BYU finished things off 25-22 with a kill from Sander and back-to-back blocks from Boyce and Sander.
At the beginning of set two, the Cougars took an early 5-2 lead with a strong presence from Devin Young in the middle and Patch from the service line. Following one of the longest rallies of the match, Patch pounded the ball to the back corner to give the Cougars a 9-7 lead. Midway through the second set, Young and Patch exchanged sets to put the Cougars up 16-12. The Cougars widened the gap 19-12 with help from several UCLA hitting errors. Similar to the start of set one, Lavaja recorded back-to-back points giving the Cougars a 22-14 advantage. BYU closed out set two 25-14 following a UCLA service error.
BYU trailed UCLA during the start of set three until Boyce set Patch for a kill to take the lead 9-8. An ace from Lavaja helped the Cougars extend their lead to 11-9. Though the teams exchanged points through most of the set, a rallying point for the Cougars came with a solo block from Boyce putting the Cougars up 19-18. Late in the third set, Sander continued to lead the Cougars, recording a kill followed by an ace to put his team up 23-21. The Cougars closed out the set and the match 25-23 on a UCLA hitting error.
After 10 matches at home, the Cougars hit the road for the first time this season against Pepperdine and USC on Feb. 15 and 16, respectively. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. PST.