Straight-set win against UC Irvine puts No. 1 BYU in MPSF semifinals


PROVO, Utah – No. 1 BYU men's volleyball swept its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation quarterfinal matchup with No. 14 UC Irvine (25-21, 25-20, 25-23) behind 14- and 13-kill nights from Ben Patch and Jake Langlois, respectively, Saturday night at Elaine Michaelis Court.

“I knew when people got to the game they were going to think these two teams look very similar,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “They’ve got some guys they can bring it off the bench that really got after it. We knew they were going to be aggressive and come out and serve really tough. It’s good to be tested and we need that going forward.”

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Patch led the Cougars (24-3, 19-3 MPSF) in kills while also chipping in a pair of service aces and four digs. Langlois collected his 13 kills at a .545 hitting clip and had eight digs and a service ace in the win. Brenden Sander tallied nine kills and two aces. Price Jarman and Michael Hatch each had four kills, and Jarman collected his on a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage. Leo Durkin had a match-high 39 assists. Jarman also had a match-high four blocks and Erik Sikes chipped in eight digs. 

The Cougars bested the Anteaters (10-20, 7-15 MPSF) in kills 44-39 and hitting percentage .429-.282 in the match.

The match opened with both teams trading points in the first set. The score was tied at 12 before two big blocks in a row from Jarman and Durkin gave BYU its biggest advantage up to that point in the set at 15-12. A powerful kill from Patch followed by a hitting error pushed the advantage to 22-16. A UC Irvine service error clinched the first set for the Cougars 25-21.

The second set began much the same way as the first with both sides unable to break away from each other. Consecutive kills from Sander and Hatch gave BYU a two-point advantage, 11-9, to force a UC Irvine timeout. The Cougars maintained the lead through the middle of the set, and a Sander service ace pushed the lead to three, 20-17, to force another Anteater timeout. A bullet serve from Langlois resulted in a service ace to give BYU a 25-20 set victory, and a 2-0 lead in the match.

With the score knotted at five in set three, BYU ran off three-consecutive points to grab an 8-5 lead thanks to a UC Irvine error and back-to-back service aces from Patch. The Anteaters evened the score at 15 after two kills and a BYU error. The Cougars clinched the close set, 25-23, and the match on a UC Irvine error.

BYU will play host for the rest of the MPSF tournament. The Cougars will face off against No. 5 seed UC Santa Barbara Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. MDT. The other semifinal match will be played at 5 p.m. at the Smith Fieldhouse. BYU's match will be broadcast live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio.