Cougars fall in tough five-set battle at Pepperdine


MALIBU, Calif. – No. 6 BYU men's volleyball fell to No. 4 Pepperdine in a five-set thriller (23-25, 26-24, 25-27, 25-13, 15-13) Friday night at Firestone Fieldhouse.

"It's tough to be on the losing side of such a close five-set match," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "I thought we matched up well with Pepperdine coming into the match. They just made a few more of the little plays down the stretch and ultimately that's what ended up being the difference tonight." 

Jake Langlois led the Cougars with 18 kills on a .350 clip to go along with six digs. Tyler Heap contributed a team-high 46 assists and 11 digs while Jaylen Reyes tallied 16 digs to lead the team. Michael Hatch led the blocking effort for BYU with five. Phil Fuchs collected 11 kills while Carson Heninger added double-digit kills with 10 to pick up a season high.

The Cougars (13-6, 10-5 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) scored the first point of the decisive fifth set from a Langlois kill. Pepperdine (16-4, 11-4 MPSF) kept the score close as three kills from Josh Taylor kept the score tied at 5-5. Service errors from the Waves helped BYU to an 8-6 lead at the midway point of the set. Pepperdine scored the next three points, however, to go up 9-8. A block kept the Waves up by two at 12-10, but a Langlois kill knotted the score back up at 13 apiece. The Cougars couldn't defend against two more kills as Pepperdine took the set and match 15-13. 

BYU got its first point of the first set from a Heap and Joseph Grosh block. Pepperdine kept the score within a point until a Heninger service ace gave the Cougars a 6-4 edge. The Waves retook the lead at 10-8 following a 4-1 run that included kills from three different players. After a pair of points from BYU, the score remained within a point until another 4-1 rally from Pepperdine gave it a 19-17 edge, forcing McGown to take his first timeout of the set. Langlois tied the set at 20-all after the break with a kill before another kill from Heap gave the Cougars back the lead and set point. A Phil Fuchs kill finished off the closely contested set 25-23 for BYU. The Cougars ended the set with zero attacking errors on a .533 clip.

The second set picked up right where the first set left off with the score going back and forth until a Grosh ace gave BYU an early 5-3 advantage. The Cougars maintained a slight lead in the set as a Fuchs ace extended the advantage to four at 12-8. The Waves cut the score to two at 14-12, but then gave up consecutive points as they took a timeout, down 16-12. The Cougars led by as many as five at 19-14 before a trio of quick Pepperdine points brought it back within two at 20-18. A Langlois kill stalled the run from the Waves before they scored another pair of points to make it 21-20, BYU. Pepperdine tied the set at 22 apiece for the first time since it was 3-3 after a Matt Tarantino kill. The Cougars were able to fend off one set point before the Waves took the second-consecutive closely contested set 26-24.   

A Heap and Hatch block helped propel BYU to a 4-0 run and a 7-3 early lead in the third set, forcing an early timeout from Pepperdine. The Waves scored three-straight points after the break to cut the lead to one, 7-6, but the Cougars quickly followed with a 5-0 rally to extend their lead to six at 12-6. Pepperdine countered with a 7-3 run to come back within two at 15-13, forcing BYU to take a timeout. The Waves took their first lead of the set at 18-17 after a service ace from Max States. Pepperdine led by as many as three at 21-18, but Brenden Sander gave the Cougars back-to-back-to-back kills to help his team retake the lead 23-21. The Waves withstood two set points from BYU before a Hatch and Heninger block sealed the win in set three 27-25. 

Pepperdine jumped out to an 10-3 advantage in the fourth set with help from a trio of service aces and multiple Cougar errors. The teams traded points from there as a Wave attack error brought BYU back within five, down 13-8. The Cougars continued to struggle defensively down the stretch as Pepperdine took a 19-11 lead and BYU took a timeout. The Waves easily took the fourth set 25-13, sending the match to a decisive fifth set.

The Cougars return to Firestone Fieldhouse Saturday night at 7 p.m. PDT for a rematch. Links to live stats and a video feed for the match can be found on the BYU men's volleyball schedule page