PROVO, Utah- The No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball team came from behind to defeat University of California-Santa Barbara 3-1 (28-30, 25-17, 25-16, 25-22) on Friday in the Smith Fieldhouse.
"All of these teams in our league are great," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "They can beat us on any night if we don't play well and play sharp. Luckily after the first set we were able to pull it together."
Senior Robb Stowell led the Cougars with 17 kills and seven blocks. Josue Rivera and Futi Tavana contributed 11 and nine kills, respectively. Russ Lavaja led BYU in blocks with 11. Joe Kauliakamoa handed out 47 assists, totaled a career-high six kills and led the team in digs with nine while libero Jaylen Reyes also had nine digs.
The Cougars led by as many as five points multiple times in the first set but a 6-1 run by UCSB allowed the Gauchos to tie the score at 18-all. Service errors plagued BYU throughout the set but particularly down the stretch as the Cougars committed six service errors in the first UCSB would go on to win the set in extra points, 30-28.
A resilient BYU team came out swinging in the second set and this time when the home team took an early lead they were able to hang onto it, winning the set 25-17. A kill by freshman Phil Fuchs sealed the deal for the Cougars and tied the match at 1-1. Stowell recorded five kills in each of the first two sets.
Having found their momentum in the second set, the Cougars cruised to an easy set three victory behind strong play on the net. Kauliakamoa, Tavana and Fuchs each tallied three blocks including one solo block by Kauliakamoa.
Once again the Cougars took an early six point lead with the score 14-8, but UCSB proceeded to go on a 10-3 run to take an 18-17 advantage over BYU. With his team trailing by one point, setter Kauliakamoa decided to take over the scoring responsibility with two straight kills for the Cougars. Kauliakamoa’s kill would spark a 5-0 BYU run. Russ Lavajacame up big during the run, recording a kill and two assisted blocks with the help of Stowell. Ultimately, it was a Stowell kill that would give the Cougars the set and match victory.
BYU will take to the court again tomorrow in a rematch against UC-Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. MT in the Smith Fieldhouse. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv and online at byutvsports.com