No. 1 BYU falls to No. 7 Long Beach State in five-set thriller
PROVO, Utah – In its second five-set match of the year, No. 1 BYU men's volleyball team fell to No. 7 Long Beach State University 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-16, 10-15) Friday in the Smith Fieldhouse.
“Long Beach played really well and were able to run an offense that we had a tough time defending," head coach Chris McGown said. “They came out confident, and we didn’t have the emotion that we would’ve liked to have seen tonight."
The Cougars fall to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Long Beach improves to 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the MPSF.
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Junior Taylor Sander led the Cougars with 21 kills, tied for a match-high, and six blocks.Freshman Ben Patch contributed 17 kills and three blocks while sophomore Josue Rivera added 13 kills and three blocks. Rivera led the team in hitting with a .346 clip.
Throughout the first several minutes of the match, both teams exchanged points until BYU pulled ahead 8-5 with a kill from Sander. Towards the middle of the set Patch led the team with three kills to put the Cougars up 12-8. Despite the Cougars five-point lead at 15-10, several errors allowed the 49ers to tie the game at 15. BYU extended the lead back to three but once again let Long Becah State back in due to more errors tying the game 19-19. With the 49ers leading 24-21, Patch and Russ Lavaja exchanged kills to come within one, but Long Beach’s Taylor Crabb put the ball away from the back row to end set one 25-23.
A block in the middle from Lavaja tied the second set at 9 and a hitting error from Crab put the Cougars in the lead 10-9 for the first time since the start of the set. Great defense from both teams in the middle of the set prevented either offense from making much of an impact. Freshman Michael Hatch recorded his first career block and added another to put the Cougars up 19-15. Another block from Lavaja extended the Cougars lead, 22-17. To end set two, Ryan Boyce fed Patch who put the game away with a roll shot, 25-19.
Tied at one set a piece, BYU started off set three flat with several more errors allowing Long Beach to take an early 6-2 lead. Though trailing by six through much of the middle of the set, freshman Tyler Heap, playing in his first set as a Cougar, gave BYU a needed spark. Still trailing 23-17 late in the game, BYU cut the lead to five following a Lavaja kill and a Long Beach net violation. Long Beach went on to win set three 25-18.
Going into set four trailing 2-1, the Cougars took the lead 5-4 following a block and a kill from Sander from the outside. Several Long Beach errors and a strong presence from Devin Young in the middle gave the Cougars a 9-4 lead, its largest lead since the end of set two. Entering the midpoint of set four, Sander took over with several digs from the back row and a few kills in the front. Heap fed Patch who killed the ball from the right side putting the Cougars up 16-11. Following a dig by Hatch, Heap set up Sander who gave the Cougars a 20-11 cushion. BYU captured a 25-16 win in set four.
Going into the final set of the night, the Cougars trailed 5-2 early on. Sander’s kill from the right side and a kill from Rivera on the outside put the Cougars within two at 7-5. Down three, Heap set Patch on the right for the kill to make it 9-7. Still down by four at 13-9, Heap dug a Long Beach middle hit that set up Sander for the kill. Though the Cougars were looking for a comeback, Long Beach maintained the lead and took set five 15-10 and the match.
BYU returns to the Smith Fieldhouse Saturday night to play No. 9 Cal State Northridge at 7 p.m. MST.
No. 1 Cougars back in action at Smith Fieldhouse
No. 1 BYU (6-2, 5-1 MPSF)
No. 7 Long Beach State (7-3, 5-2 MPSF)
No. 9 Cal State Northridge (4-2, 2-2 MPSF)
Sitting as the No. 1 team in the country, the BYU men’s volleyball team returns to action after a bye weekend, hosting No. 7 Long Beach State and No. 9 Cal State Northridge at the Smith Fieldhouse Friday and Saturday, respectively, at 7 p.m. MST.
This marks the second week the Cougars have held the No. 1 ranking in the AVCA.
In its last outing, BYU defeated then-No. 1 UC Irvine 3-1 and then-No. 13 UC San Diego 3-0. Junior Taylor Sander was named the AVCA National Player of the Week for his performance in the matches. Sander leads the team with 85 kills and has recorded double-figure kills in all six matches.
Senior Russ Lavaja’s 1.64 blocks per set leads the team and the MPSF. BYU is out-blocking its opponents 69.0 - 42.5 and is No. 3 in the MPSF with 3.14 blocks per set.
The Cougars are first in the conference in opponent hitting percentage, holding their opponents to a .205 clip. BYU is ranked second in hitting percentage (.333). The Cougars are ranked in the top five in five of the seven statistical categories.
Long Beach State
Long Beach State is coming off a 3-1 win at Cal Baptist Tuesday Jan. 29.
The 49ers’ highest team ranking in the MPSF is in digs with the fourth-best mark (8.97). On the conference individual leader board, Taylor Crabb is eighth in points per set (4.44) and kills per set (3.86).
BYU leads the overall series against Long Beach State 24-19. The two teams split the 2012 series, with the Cougars grabbing a 3-0 win before the 49ers came away with a 3-2 victory on the road. BYU’s last home loss was in 2005.
Cal State Northridge
Coming off a 3-0 win over UC San Diego, Cal State Northridge takes on Cal Baptist Wednesday Jan. 30 before traveling to the Smith Fieldhouse.
Drew Staker and Jared Moore hold the top two spots in hitting percentage in the MPSF, hitting .531 and .525, respectively. Travis Magorien is No. 2 in service aces in the conference with a 0.52 average, propelling the Matadors to the No. 2 team spot with 1.43 aces per set. Cal State Northridge is third in opponent hitting percentage (.231).
The Cougars own a 29-22 overall record against the Matadors and are 16-9 at home. BYU topped Cal State Northridge 3-1 in 2012. The Matadors last secured a victory in Provo in 2010.
Friday’s match against Long Beach State will be broadcast live on BYUtv. Saturday’s match will be available through live stats only. Live stats are available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.
Fans can also follow the team on Twitter @BYUvolleyball for live updates.