(Photo by BYU Photo/Todd Wakefield)
PROVO, Utah – Junior Matt Underwood’s career night led No. 5 BYU men’s volleyball to a sweep (25-22, 25-16, 25-22) against No. 9 Long Beach State with a big third set comeback Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"It wasn't our prettiest effort and they made it a little hard for us at the service line, but we scrapped and kept some rallies alive with our defense," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "Simultaneously, I'm really disappointed in how we started the third set and elated that we found the combination of guys that wanted to get back on the floor and work like crazy and believe they could keep it going."
Underwood finished with a career-high 17 kills to go along with two digs and two blocks. Senior Jaylen Reyes recorded a season-high 15 digs on the night, while Jake Langlois added four kills and five blocks. Robbie Sutton and Tyler Heap finished with 19 and 11 assists, respectively, with Michael Hatch and Brenden Sander adding three kills each. Hatch contributed a team-high nine blocks in the win.
The Cougars (10-3, 9-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) trailed early 5-3, but responded with a 4-1 run that included kills by Grosh and Underwood to take a 7-6 lead. Underwood added two more kills with Langlois connecting from the back row to extend BYU’s lead 14-11. LBSU (8-5, 5-5 MPSF) tied the game at 21 apiece but was answered by Underwood’s fourth kill of the set, a big block by Rivera and Grosh and a service error by Long Beach State to give BYU the set 25-22.
The 49ers and Cougars battled back and forth to start the second set until a 4-0 run, ignited by consecutive kills by Langlois and a service ace by Rivera, gave BYU an 8-5 lead. The Cougars continued to extend their lead 20-14 with kills by Langlois, Underwood, Hatch and Sander. Four of the last five errors came from LBSU to give the Cougars the 25-16 second-set win.
Long Beach State got off to a quick 8-1 start in the third set, but BYU started chipping away at its deficit at 9-5 with kills by Kiril Meretev, Hatch, Sander and Underwood. After the 49ers retook a 15-9 lead, the Cougars responded with an 8-0 run, led by Underwood’s three kills and Meretev’s service ace, to lead 17-15.
Meretev’s tip gave BYU back a one-point lead after LBSU tied it at 21 apiece. BYU took the set 25-22 after Underwood’s 17th kill and Hatch and Underwood’s block.
"Great night for Matt," McGown said. "He really was the key to the match. If he doesn't have the kind of match he did, we don't win."
The Cougars stay in the Smith Fieldhouse for a rematch against No. 9 Long Beach State Saturday at 7 p.m. MST. The match will be televised live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.