Kevin Sagers recorded a new season-high 14 kills in BYU's win over the UC San Diego Tritons. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
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PROVO -- In the first five-set match in series history, the No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team struck down No. 13 UC San Diego 3-2 (25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 29-31, 15-12) Thursday in the Smith Fieldhouse.
"The guys put their hearts out on the court and we'll take the win, but we have some things to work on for tomorrow," said BYU interim head coach Rob Neilson. "We need to do a better job of serving the ball and putting up a big middle block. We have to refocus and come back with a little more energy, a little more intensity and be prepared to play a good team."
Robb Stowell led the Cougars with a season-high 23 kills and five digs. He was followed by Kevin Sagers with a season-high 14 kills. Joe Kauliakamoa had a new season-high 60 assists, tied his previous season-high with eight digs and tallied a season-high six blocks.
The Cougars and Tritons exchanged points back and forth in the first set, keeping the score within two. Consecutive kills from Sagers kept up the BYU momentum until the Cougars broke away with a 23-10 score. BYU took the set on a UCSD service error.
Midway through the second set, the Cougars started a 7-2 scoring streak to bring the score to 19-12. The Tritons brought the score back within two on their own 7-2 run, but UCSD gave the second set to the Cougars after an attack error.
The Tritons kept the pressure up as the third set drew to a close, tying the score 23-23. UCSD’s Sebastian Brady moved the Tritons into set point on a kill and stole the third-set win from the Cougars with a block aided by Phil Bannan.
UCSD took an early lead in the fourth set, but the Cougars wouldn’t stay behind for long. An out-of-bounds hit gave the lead back to BYU with the score at 6-5. The Tritons stole the lead, but BYU came back to tie 20-20. From there, the score tied nine more times, ending in a Triton block for the set win.
A kill from Stowell took the Cougars to a 9-6 lead fifth but the Tritons rebounded for a 10-10 tie. With the Cougars ahead 14-12, Otavio Souza blocked an attack from Brady to take the match for BYU.
Carl Eberts led in kills for the Tritons with 17 and five digs. Brady had 15 kills, hitting 59.1 percent, and Joel Davidson had 13 with five digs. Bannan led in assists with 52.
The teams return to the Fieldhouse court Friday at 7 p.m. for another faceoff.