Senior Night Sweep for Cougars
PROVO, Utah -- For the final regular season home match, the No. 2 BYU Cougars kept their undefeated record alive in the Smith Fieldhouse as they swept (25-23, 25-20, 25-22) the fourth-ranked Long Beach State 49ers.
“I’m proud of how hard this group has worked and how much they’ve sacrificed for each other,” BYU interim head coach Rob Neilson said. “We have so much depth and talent on this team. We have a lot of new starters this year and they are really talented and have been great playing at home. Our struggle has been learning to win on the road and I think these next couple of games will be a good test for us to see how we progress. But, we’re certainly excited to have one of the quarterfinal matches be here in the fieldhouse.”
As is customary for the last home match of the season, the BYU men’s volleyball team seniors Alex DaPron, Kevin Sagers, BJ Hiapo, Jeff Robinson and Otavio Souza were honored at the end of the match.
Futi Tavana recorded the game-high 11 kills for the night, hitting at a .588 percentage. Robb Stowell and Alex DaPron followed him with 10 kills apiece.
After a crucial kill by Stowell, BYU took an early lead of 11-6 over the 49ers in the first set, forcing Long Beach to take their first time out. The 49ers inched their way up to tie the score at 18 all, before two more kills from Stowell regained the Cougars lead.
While Long Beach State was able to tie BYU at 21-21, it wasn’t enough for them to take the set victory. BYU grabbed the win at 25-23. Both Stowell and DaPron supplied a .667 hitting percentage for the first set.
Set two was a change of pace as the 49ers held the lead at 6-4 early on in but a kill by DaPron brought the Cougars to tie at 12-all. Stowell assisted in gaining the lead for the Cougars and BYU continued to build off of their lead to 18-13.
Long Beach State rallied back but was unable to catch up to the Cougars as they took their second-set victory at 25-20. Major contributors of the second set include freshman Taylor Sander and DaPron who provided four kills each.
The third set was back-and-fourth as both teams fought for the lead. Tying points all the way up until 20-18, the Cougars finally stole the lead and continued on to take the match victory at 25-22. Tavana recorded five kills for set three while Stowell tallied four.
Up next, the Cougars will head to Malibu to face off with Pepperdine on April 8th and 9th at 7 p.m. PT.
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