Smith Fieldhouse Provo UT 84606
PROVO, Utah – In a thrilling five-set match the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team defeated No. 15 University of Santa Barbara 3-2 (21-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-27, 15-9) in the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday night.
The Cougars dropped set one for just the second time this season, won the next two and then went down again in the fourth, forcing a fifth set.
The score was tied 8-8 in the fifth before BYU (7-2, 6-1 MPSF) went on a 6-0 run to put it out of reach for the Gauchos (5-8, 3-6 MPSF).
The Cougars hit at a .369 clip for the match but notched a .556 percent in the fifth set to connect when it counted. Taylor Sander led BYU with 20 kills and Ben Patch and Josue Rivera added 19 and 14 kills, respectively.
"We came out a little flat at first, we weren't playing poorly we just didn't get up to game speed," head coach Chris McGown said. "UCSB came out and played really well. When I look at the numbers overall, I think we played really really well, we had some hiccups in the first and fourth but overall we played a really nice match."
BYU and the Gauchos started off the first set going back and forth before the Cougars got some separation with a 13-10 lead. UCSB tied it up at 15-all and came back to take a 22-18 lead on a late 4-0 run and had enough to hold on for a 25-21 win in set one.
The Gauchos took an early lead in set two but BYU raced back to take an 8-6 lead and push it to 15-10 later on. The Cougars cruised form then on and an ace from Devin Young put UCSB away 25-18 in the second set. After hitting just .188 percent in the first set BYU improved to .455 in the second.
In the third set the Cougars came out hot, jumping out to a 7-2 advantage. BYU controlled the set, rallying for a 17-10 lead. BYU pushed the lead to double-digits on a soft floating ace just inside the line from Nick Valencia to make it 22-12.
A big block stopped the Gauchos’ last effort in a dominating set-three 25-13 win for the Cougars. Rivera led the set with five kills while Patch and Sander added three apiece.
UCSB responded with a 7-5 lead to start the fourth set before BYU battled back to a 14-14 tie. The Gauchos took control right back with a 3-0 run but BYU responded again with a 4-1 answer to tie the score at 18-18. The set went down to the wire, both teams going point-for-point.
Down 24-23, another soft ace from Valencia tied it up. UCSB was able to outlast the Cougars, winning the set 27-25 to force a fifth set.
Sander helped BYU to a 5-3 lead on two early kills in the fifth. The Gauchos came back to tie it two more times but the Cougars continued to push back. Patch grabbed kills No. 18 and 19 followed by a UCSB attack error that gave BYU the separation it needed with a 12-8 lead.
The Cougars weren’t done, continuing with the run, making it 6-0 in all to make it 14-8. The Gauchos were too far behind as BYU went on to take the set 15-9 and the match 3-2.
Up next, the Cougars host No. 6 UCLA on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Smith Fieldhouse.
No. 1 BYU (6-2, 5-1 MPSF)
No. 15 UCSB (4-7, 2-5 MPSF)
No. 6 UCLA (8-5, 4-3 MPSF)
Playing in its final weekend of its 10-match home stand, the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team welcomes No. 15 UCSB and No. 6 UCLA to the Smith Fieldhouse.
The Cougars take on the Gauchos on Thursday, Feb. 7, and the Bruins on Saturday, Feb. 9. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. MST.
BYU is ranked No. 1 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association for its third-straight week. The Cougars, who received eight first-place votes, share the top spot with UC Irvine (seven first-place votes). With only one conference loss, BYU is also ranked No. 1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Last weekend, BYU dropped its second match of the season to then-No. 7 Long Beach State, 3-2. The Cougars bounced back the next night with a 3-1 win over then-No. 9 Cal State Northridge.
Junior All-American Taylor Sander leads the Cougars with 124 kills for a 4.00 average, good for sixth in the MPSF. The outside hitter has recorded double figures in kills in all eight matches. Sander is ranked No. 5 in points with 4.71 per set and No. 11 in hitting percentage with a .352 clip.
Also ranked in the MPSF is senior Russ Lavaja who is No. 3 in blocks with a 1.52 average and No. 5 in hitting percentage at .474. Junior Devin Young is also ranked in the top-15 in blocks, coming in at No. 11 with 1.13 per set. Rounding out BYU’s individual conference rankings is senior Ryan Boyce, averaging 10.31 assists for the No. 6 spot.
BYU, who is No. 1 in hitting percentage in the MPSF with a .335 clip, is also holding its opponents to the third lowest hitting mark (.223). Thanks to a collective team effort, the Cougars are ranked No. 2 in blocks with 3.24 per set. BYU is out-blocking its opponents 100.5 – 62.0.
The Cougars are fifth in both assists and kills with averages of 11.71 and 12.55, respectively.
The Gauchos take on No. 12 Cal Baptist at home Feb. 5 before their contest with the Cougars. UCSB’s previous contest was a 3-1 win over UC San Diego.
The Cougars split the 2012 series with then-No. 12 UCSB. BYU captured a 3-1 win before UCSB edged out the home team 3-2. BYU leads the overall series against UCSB 28-21 and is 16-6 at home.
UCSB has out-killed its opponents 525 – 509. Sophomore opposite Matt Marsh leads the team with 129 kills and is No. 9 in the MPSF. Averaging 4.08 points and 0.28 service aces, Marsh is No. 12 and No. 14, respectively, in the conference.
Chad Kingi holds the No. 2 spot in digs in the MPSF with an average of 2.75. Jonah Seif is ranked third with 10.83 assists per set while Dylan Davis is fourth in hitting percentage with a .488 clip. Davis is also fifth in blocks with 1.40 per set.
The Gauchos hold two top-5 MPSF team rankings. UCSB is No. 3 in digs with 9.42 per set and is No. 5 in opponent hitting percentage at .246.
The Bruins are coming off a 3-0 win over UC San Diego. UCLA heads to No. 12 Cal Baptist Feb. 7 before traveling to Provo.
BYU split the 2012 series with then-No. 3 UCLA. After taking a 3-2 win the first night, the Bruins rallied back for a 3-0 sweep. The Bruins own the overall series with a 29-23 advantage but the Cougars remain on top at home, 13-10.
Leading the Bruins is Gonzalo Quiroga with 24 total aces on the season, for a 0.55 average. The mark gives him the top spot in the MPSF individual rankings. Quiroga is also No. 9 in points per set with 4.36 and No. 11 in kills with a 3.55 average.
Evan Mottram is ranked fourth with 2.50 digs per set while Robert Page’s 3.56 kills per set is good for No. 10. With a .350 clip, Spencer Rowe is 13th in hitting percentage.
The Bruins hold one top-5 conference team ranking. UCLA is No. 1 in service aces with an average of 1.53.
Live stats for both matches will be available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page. You can also follow the team on Twitter @BYUvolleyball for live updates.