(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – Behind a season-high 12 blocks in three sets, No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball swept No. 4 Hawai’i in a key Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matchup at the Smith Fieldhouse Friday night.
“Our guys did a lot of good things,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “Our assistant coaches did a really good job putting a game plan together, and we executed it well. I thought we took good swings, in transitions especially. We really made smart shots. They are a good team."
BYU (18-2, 12-1 MPSF) had 12 blocks to just four from Hawai’i (20-3, 10-3 MPSF). The Cougars also hit a blistering .440 clip to just .188 from the Rainbow Warriors. That hitting percentage is the highest in three sets for BYU this season.
Outside hitters Brenden Sander and Jake Langlois led BYU with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Sander also added four blocks and two digs while Langlois chipped in five digs and three blocks. Joseph Grosh had a game-high six blocks to go with his four kills. Pacing the team was Leo Durkin who had 36 assists, two digs and three blocks.
The first set was a battle as neither team led by more than two points the whole way through. After trailing by one or tying for the first part of the set, Tim Dobbert’s kill and a block by Grosh and Langlois put BYU up 10-8. The Rainbow Warriors kept the slight advantage for most of the set until Dobbert had another clutch kill, making it 22-21 in favor of the Cougars. It took extra points to finish the set, but back-to-back kills from Sander and Langlois sealed the 28-26 win for BYU.
The Cougars kept the momentum into the second set with Langlois getting two kills right off the bat to earn the early 2-0 lead. To get the first lead of more than two points, Langlois drilled the ball for the 5-2 advantage. It was all BYU from there on out. The Cougars’ biggest lead came after Sander and Grosh teamed up for a block, making it 20-13. Miki Jauhiainen drilled an overpass kill for the 25-18 victory.
The intensity picked back up in the third set. An ace from Grosh put BYU up 3-2 early on. A 3-0 run highlighted by two kills from Sander pushed the Cougars’ lead up to 7-4. The Rainbow Warriors battled back, going on a 5-1 run to take a 15-14 lead. However, BYU responded with a 4-0 rally, led by a pair of stuff blocks, to get back up, 20-17. Durkin sealed the sweep with a solo block on match point, taking the final set 25-20.
The two teams will face off again Saturday, March 18, at the Smith Fieldhouse. The game will begin at 7 p.m. MDT and will air live on BYUtv. Live stats will also be available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.