(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – The No. 5 BYU men’s volleyball team started off a weekend of competition strong with a 3-1 win (25-21, 19-15, 25-19, 25-16) against No. 10 Pepperdine, Friday.
“I thought we played great as a team,” said BYU head coach Chris McGown. "We passed great and served great. Everyone is just a little more relaxed because they understand Taylor is going to do things we couldn't before. Tomorrow we need to play with the same energy and focus. In most of these games it's about what we're doing on our side of the court so we just really need to focus on improving everyday."
In his first match back in action after a hand injury, Taylor Sander totaled a match-high 21 kills along with four blocks and four digs.
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Robb Stowell supplied 16 kills while Russ Lavaja contributed 11. Futi Tavana tallied the match-high, and season-high for him, 10 total blocks.
Cougar defense aided in the success of the first set as BYU made a strong showing at the net. The set was back and forth until a combined block from Tavana and Sander put the Cougars at a two-point lead. The team proceeded to build off of their lead and took the set 25-21. Tavana totaled four blocks for the set.
Momentum changed in the second set as Pepperdine jumped to a quick lead at 10-5. Unable to catch up, the Cougars never came within five points of the Waves and fell 25-19.
In similar fashion to the first set, the Cougars played closely with Pepperdine until a run of five points put BYU up 12-10. A long rally ended in a crushing kill by Lavaja and got the crowd on their feet. Building off of the excitement, the Cougars extended their lead and finished the set at 25-19.
In the third, Tavana recorded his first service ace for the season while Sander tallied the set-high seven kills. This contributed to the team hitting at a .483 clip which resulted in the season-high team hitting percentage for a third set.
Keeping a solid lead throughout the fourth set, the Cougars kept their distance from the Waves with the offensive help of Stowell who supplied four kills to the set. BYU ended the set and match at 25-16.
Next up, the Cougars will see Pepperdine once more in the Smith Fieldhouse tomorrow night at 7 p.m. MST.