PROVO, Utah—No. 1 seed BYU men's volleyball swept No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara (25-19, 25-22, 25-20) Thursday night in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament semifinals at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"Overall, I thought we played a pretty clean match," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "We had more errors than I would've liked, but I thought it was critical that we stayed aggressive and served tough to keep them out of system. Our serving set up a really big blocking night for us. I thought we got the ball in great spots. The boys really learned the scouting report well and executed it."
Michael Hatch and Tim Dobbert both picked up career highs in blocks on the night with 13 and eight, respectively. Dobbert also recorded double-digit kills with 10. Taylor Sander led the Cougars with 15 kills on a .500 clip to go along with four digs. Robbie Sutton contributed 26 assists, and Josue Rivera had a team-high seven digs in the win.
As a team, BYU (20-8, 18-6 MPSF) finished with 17.5 blocks compared to just 3.0 for UC Santa Barbara (18-9, 16-8 MPSF).
The match began with a tie from points one to seven until a pair of Gaucho attack errors gave the Cougars an early 10-7 advantage. A Devin Young and Rivera block capped off an 8-2 BYU run to extend the Cougars' lead to 15-9 while forcing a UC Santa Barbara timeout. BYU led by as many as eight points at 23-15 before the Gauchos came back with four-straight points. The rally proved too late as Sander blasted a ball in UC Santa Barbara territory to end the first set with a 25-19 Cougar victory.
BYU took its first lead of the second set, 5-4, from a block by Young and Sutton. With a 4-1 run the Gauchos went back on top 10-8. Despite a 4-0 Cougar swing to pull them ahead 18-16, the two teams remained within two points of each other until a block put BYU ahead 24-21 to set up set point. UC Santa Barbara ended the set with a service error to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead heading into the break with a 25-22 win.
McGown took his first timeout of the third set after falling behind 6-4 with the Gauchos in the midst of scoring six-consecutive points. With the help of a 9-2 run, BYU erased a four-point deficit to go ahead 14-11 from a trio of blocks. With things knotted-up at 17 apiece, Sander capped off a 4-1 rally with a pair of kills to put the Cougars up 21-18. Consecutive BYU blocks brought match point for the Cougars, and a Dobbert kill ended the game 25-20 in the third set.
The win gives McGown his third 20-win season in as many years as head coach of the Cougars.
The victory extends BYU's home win streak to 25 matches and advances the Cougars to the MPSF tournament championship game on Saturday at 7 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse. BYU will face No. 3 seed Stanford, who defeated No. 2 seed Pepperdine earlier in the day to advance. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv. The winner of Saturday's match will get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament held in Chicago next week.
Game 1 - Pepperdine vs. Stanford
No. 3 seed Stanford men's volleyball upset No. 2 seed Pepperdine in a three-set (25-16, 25-19, 25-16) sweep Thursday evening to advance to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament finals on Saturday.
Senior Brian Cook led the Cardinal with 17 kills and a .667 hitting percentage to go along with a team-high seven digs. Sophomore Conrad Kaminski had a game-high eight blocks in addition to eight kills. Senior Steven Irvin contributed nine kills and the team-high seven digs in the victory.
Stanford came out swinging in the first set, going on a 9-1 run to give the Cardinal a 10-point advantage at 19-9. The Waves were held to a .136 hitting clip as Stanford came away with the 25-16 set one win. There were nine ties to begin the second set until the Cardinal went on a 5-1 run to take the lead and force a Pepperdine timeout at 14-11. Stanford retained its lead through the end of the set, coming away with a 25-19 victory. The Cardinal maintained about a five-point advantage throughout the third set. With the help of a 5-2 run, Stanford extended its lead to eight at 22-14. A kill from Cook secured set three 25-16 and helped the Cardinal to a 3-0 sweep.
BYU hosts MPSF semifinal matches Thursday, final match Saturday
PROVO, Utah—After a home sweep Saturday in the quarterfinals, No. 1 seed BYU men’s volleyball returns to the Smith Fieldhouse to host the semifinals and final of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
The Cougars will face No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara Thursday at 8 p.m. MDT following No. 2 seed Pepperdine vs. No. 3 seed Stanford at 5 p.m. MDT. The final will be played Saturday at 7 p.m. MDT and will be broadcast live on BYUtv should the Cougars advance.
BYU (19-8, 18-6 MPSF) comes off a convincing 3-0 win against No. 8 seed USC Saturday, led by MPSF Player of the Year Taylor Sander’s 13 kills. Setter Robbie Sutton made his first career start, playing for regular starter Tyler Heap who is listed day to day with a sprained ankle. Sutton recorded a career-high 36 assists in the sweep of USC.
The Cougars held the Trojans to 48 combined points in the match, USC’s fewest in the rally-scoring era. USC's 13 points in the opening set were its fewest in a 25-point set since getting 13 versus Hawaii in 2002.
BYU is No. 4 in the most recent AVCA coaches poll, and UC Santa Barbara is No. 5. Pepperdine, who tied BYU for a share of the MPSF regular-season title, is No. 2 and Stanford is No. 3. The next poll will be released April 28.
UC Santa Barbara (18-8, 16-8 MPSF) fought off UCLA in a five-set home victory Saturday to earn the semifinal berth. Down 2-1 after three sets, the Gauchos came back from a 14-7 deficit to win the fourth set 25-20 and the fifth set 15-12 behind Evan Licht’s 17 kills.
Pepperdine (19-6, 18-6 MPSF) defeated Long Beach State in its quarterfinal match Saturday, taking down the 49ers 3-1 at home. The Waves lost the first set, but rattled off victories in the next three sets to take the match. Kyle Gerrans led the Waves with a career-high 17 kills, helped out by Matt West’s 44 assists.
Also battling in a five-set match in the quarterfinals, Stanford (21-7, 17-7 MPSF) managed to defeat defending national champion UC Irvine on the Cardinal’s home court. Stanford overcame a 13-12 Anteater lead in the fifth set to take the win, led by Brian Cook’s 21 kills and nine digs.
With no upsets in the quarterfinals, all four top seeds in the tournament reached the semifinal matches this season.
BYUtv will broadcast the UC Santa Barbara vs. BYU match Thursday and the championship match Saturday should BYU advance. Thursday’s semifinal between Stanford and Pepperdine will be streamed live on TheW.tv. Links to live video streaming and live stats for all matches, as well as live audio streaming for the UC Santa Barbara vs. BYU match and championship match, are available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.
Full-session tickets, which include admission to both semifinal matches and the final, are on sale now at the BYU Ticket Office (1-800-322-BYU1). Semifinal tickets go on sale Thursday.