(Photo by Bella Torgenson/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – An efficient Taylor Sander and his 16 kills led the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-21, 25-20) sweep of No. 12 Cal Baptist on Friday night in the Smith Fieldhouse.
Along with his match-high kills, Sander tied a career high with a .750 hitting percentage. Russ Lavaja and Josue Rivera added six kills apiece to help the Cougars improve to 14-3 on the year and 13-2 in the MPSF.
"Taylor did a really nice job tonight of not trying to overdo it, just hit balls in smart spots," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "He kind of played the way he can play: deep into the court, mixing it up, hit some roll shots here and there and just kept them off balance a little bit. And the fact that he passed and played defense as well as he did really helped us a lot."
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BYU started strong, winning the first three points and jumping out to a 7-2 lead early on. The Cougars continued to roll to a 15-6 lead, led by three early kills from Sander. Riding the momentum and back-to-back aces late in the set from Rivera, BYU cruised to a 25-13 set-one victory.
Set No. 2 started a little different, with Cal Baptist looking to bounce back. Tied 6-6, BYU got some separation at 8-6 but the Lancers came right back to tie it at 9 apiece. A quick 3-0 run gave BYU some space and Cal Baptist could never come all the way back despite keeping it close. Sander provided four kills to add to his six in the first set to give the Cougars a 25-21 win in the second set and a 2-0 match lead.
The Lancers came out of the break to answer in the third set. Both teams traded scores to start the set with the score tied 8-8. Neither team got more than a two-point advantage and the back-and-forth set continued late tied at 17. Sander’s 16th kill of the night gave BYU a 22-19 lead and another block added one more. Freshman Ben Patch gave BYU match point with a kill and an error by Cal Baptist sealed BYU’s 25-20 win in the third set and the 3-0 sweep for the match.
The Cougars host the Lancers again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. MST in the Smith Fieldhouse. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv.