Cougars Top 49ers In Four
PROVO, Utah -- In a matchup between two top five teams, the No. 2 BYU Cougars defeated No. 4 Long Beach State (25-22, 20-25, 25-20, 25-12) on Thursday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“We had to make some adjustments early in the match but we just told our guys to play their game and play disciplined,” interim head coach Rob Nielson said. “We got on a little bit of a roll in that third game and got some things to go our way.”
Robb Stowell led the Cougars in kills with 16 and also recorded six digs. Futi Tavana contributed a season-high 15 kills on a .737 hitting percentage and led BYU in kills for the final two sets.
Also recording double-digit kills was Taylor Sander with 12. Alex DaPron added eight kills and five digs to help BYU win its third consecutive match over a ranked opponent.
Set one went back and forth for the duration, featuring six lead changes and 11 ties. Taylor Sander led BYU to an early 3-1 lead with back-to-back aces, but Long Beach State was able to regain the lead moments later, 6-7. A Stowell kill pushed the Cougars in front at 17-16, a lead BYU refused to relinquish the rest of the way as they took the 25-22 victory.
BYU came out strong in the second set and maintained a small lead until the 49ers tied it at 13-13. From there Long Beach State controlled the set, recording zero errors to the Cougars six on their way to a 25-20 win that tied up the match count at 1-all. Stowell and Sander each recorded five kills in the set to lead BYU.
Futi Tavana set the tone early in the third with a powerful kill to give BYU a 1-0 lead. Behind Tavana’s set-leading five kills and the team’s four blocks, the Cougars never trailed, leading by as much as seven before winning by five, 25-20.
Momentum from the third set carried to the fourth as the Cougars dominated Long Beach State, taking the set 25-12. Tavana again led BYU in kills with five with an .833 hitting percentage.
BYU will be back in action against the 49ers Friday night at 7:00 pm at the Smith Fieldhouse. BYUtv will broadcast the game.
Final Regular Season Home Matches
The second-ranked BYU men's volleyball team will play its final regular season home matches this Thursday and Friday, March 31 and April 1, against fourth-ranked Long Beach State at 8 p.m. and 7 p.m. MT.
Thursday's match begins at 8 p.m. and Friday's will start at 7. Friday will also include a brief ceremony to honor this year's five seniors.
Both matches will be televised live on BYUtv and online at byutv.org/live with streaming stats also available through the men's volleyball schedule page.
The Cougars (16-7, 12-6) host the 49ers after sweeping their weekend games against eighth-ranked Hawaii last Thursday and Friday. Junior Robb Stowell leads the attack for BYU on 336 kills and a .335 attacking percentage. Teammates
Taylor Sander, Futi Tavana and Alex DaPron join Stowell in double-digit kills with 273, 186 and 144 respectively.
Tavana currently leads the team with a .436 hitting percentage and is the only players with over 100 kills for a 133 total.
Setter Joe Kauliakamoa has recorded 736 assists this season as he paces the Cougar offense, averaging 9.81 per set. Setter Ryan Boyce has recently been splitting time with Kauliakamoa for 174 total assists and a 3.95 average.
The 49ers come to Provo after moving to No. 4 from nine in this week’s AVCA poll for defeating Pacific 3-1 and second-ranked Stanford in five sets. Jim Baughman leads Long Beach State with 286 kills while teammates Brad Hemmerling, Taylor Crabb and Antwain Aguillard join him