PROVO, Utah -- No. 9 BYU upset No. 1 Long Beach State 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-20) with the help of Taylor Sander, who had a season-high 24 kills, and Tyler Heap, who had a career-high 47 assists Saturday night.
“It’s a whole different deal when we’re here at home,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “The guys had great energy and really played together as a team. Everyone did their job and worked really hard and it’s early, but that was an important match for us.”
Sander also finished with a season-high 11 digs. Heap finished with three total career-highs, also adding 11 digs and four blocks. Matt Underwood had a career-high seven digs. Josue Rivera earned season highs of his own with eight kills and eight digs. Devin Young was a wall for the Cougars (2-2, 2-0 MPSF) with a season-high eight blocks for a team total of 11. Sander finished with his first double-double of the season, contributing 11 digs of his own.
The Cougars got ahead quickly in the first set with a 5-1 run to force an early LBSU (2-1, 1-1 MPSF) timeout. A series of attack errors from LBSU helped BYU extend its lead to 8-3. The 49ers then started to match the Cougars point-for-point. LBSU closed the gap to 16-14 on a 4-1 run, but back-to-back Sander kills kept the 49ers at bay. With a 23-20 lead at the end of the set, Rivera and Heap smashed two kills for the win.
LBSU fought back in the second set, with an immediate 4-1 lead off of three kills. The 49ers pulled away again from BYU with the help of Cougar attack errors to lead the game 13-9. The Cougars fought back hard with three kills in a row from Joseph Grosh, Rivera and Underwood to trail by one point. The Cougars were finally able to tie the game up at 15-15 on an LBSU attack error. A Sander kill pushed the Cougars ahead 17-16 in their first lead of the set. In the last points of the set the teams exchanged points, repeatedly tying the score before LBSU took the win at 25-23.
In set three, Sander came out swinging with back-to-back kills. BYU pulled away 4-1 before LBSU could respond. The Cougars went on a 6-1 run, their longest run of the match, to take the 11-7 lead. The teams then played kill-for-kill through seven straight points to leave the score 21-17. The 49ers offense had a couple of kills to force a BYU timeout. BYU came back with two Sander kills for game-point and an LBSU attack error for the win.
After falling behind in the first points, BYU took the lead 4-3 with Underwood and Rivera kills in the final set. LBSU’s Andrew Whitt swung hard with three kills to compete with BYU’s defense and tie the game at 8-8. Sander had a couple of his own along with Grosh and Underwood to help push the Cougars back into the lead at 12-9. BYU never looked back. With Rivera serving for match point, BYU played through a tough volley with Heap setting Sander up for the kill and win.
The Cougars take to the road Friday to face UC Irvine, the team's first meeting since facing each other in the NCAA championship match last season. The match will begin at 7 p.m. PST in Irvine, Calif. BYU then faces UC San Diego at 7 p.m. PST in La Jolla, Calif.
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