(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU)
PROVO, Utah - Junior Taylor Sander was named this week’s Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week, following his performance in No. 1 BYU’s win over then-No. 1 UC Irvine and then-No. 13 UC San Diego.
The two-time AVCA All-American outside hitter led the Cougars (5--1, 4-0 MPSF) to a 3-1 win over defending NCAA champion UC Irvine before taking control in BYU’s 3-0 win over UCSD. Sander led his team both nights in kills with 16 and 11, respectively. He added eight digs and three blocks to his 16 kills while leading BYU to its win against UCI. Sander hit a .375 clip both nights and averaged 4.71 points per set over the weekend.
Sander recorded back-to-back service aces against the Tritons to break, and then extend, BYU’s ace record in the modern rally era. With 93 aces notched in just the beginning of his junior season, Sander topped Ivan Perez in the rally era for the No. 1 spot.
This is the 20th time in program history a BYU player has garnered Sports Imports/Player of the Week honors, and the second for Sander after winning it January 17th of last year.
The Cougars were the unanimous No. 1 team in the country following their weekend wins, receiving all 16 first-place votes. Pepperdine received the No. 2 nod followed by No. 3 UC Irvine. Rounding out the top five are Stanford and UCLA with a fourth-place tie. The last time BYU was ranked No. 1 was the week of Jan. 30, 2012.
The Cougars have a bye weekend before resuming match play at home, welcoming No. 7 Long Beach State on Feb. 1 and No. 9 Cal Northridge on Feb. 2 to the Smith Fieldhouse. Both matches are slated for 7 p.m. MST.