(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – Outside hitter Taylor Sander recorded a match-high 18 kills and the BYU men’s volleyball team defeated the University of Hawai’i in four sets (25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 25-20) on Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“Offensively we did a lot of nice things,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “Defensively we played well too. We put up a nice night statistically. We hit all the markers that we’re after.”
Along with Sander’s 18 kills, the junior posted a hitting percentage of .500 and had three digs and one block. Senior Russ Lavaja was a defensive force, picking up a match-high 11 blocks while sophomore Jaylen Reyes had 12 digs to help out the Cougars (2-0, 2-0 MPSF).
The match started tight with both teams trading scores and neither team grabbing more than a one-point advantage. Tied 9-9, BYU got a little more separation to lead by as many as three but Hawai’i put together a run of its own to tie the score at 14-14. A 4-0 run gave the Cougars the cushion they needed as the team went on to win 25-21 in set one. Sander had six kills in the first set, hitting a perfect 1.000 clip.
BYU took a 4-1 lead in the second set and stretched its lead to 13-8 midway through. A kill from Phil Fuchs gave the Cougars a 21-14 lead but Hawai’i (0-2, 0-2 MPSF) made it interesting, cutting the deficit to 24-21. Fuchs ended the Warriors’ hopes with a block to give BYU the 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set started more like the first with a 7-7 tie out of the gates. Hawai’i got out in front after that, carrying a 21-17 lead, capitalizing on the Cougars’ errors. BYU wouldn’t quit, cutting the lead back to 22-21 heading into a Warrior’ timeout. Sander tied it up with a kill out of the break. Both teams went back and forth but Hawai’i edged the home team out for the 26-24 win in set three.
The Cougars regrouped in set four, taking a 9-5 lead to start. BYU kept the momentum going, building a 14-7 lead with a kill from Devin Young. Sander recorded back-to-back kills to push the Cougar lead to 17-9. Hawai’i outscored the Cougars 6-2 over the next stretch to keep within striking distance at 19-15. The Warriors would never get any closer than four points as BYU rolled to a 25-20 victory in the fourth set to win the match.
“I like where we’re at,” McGown said. “For our first weekend not knowing how we were going to come out and what we were going to look like I’m really happy with the result.”
BYU hosts Lewis next week with the first match on Friday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.