MALIBU, Calif.—Despite a tough comeback in the fourth set, No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball dropped a 3-2 (25-19, 17-25, 25-21, 26-28, 15-11) contest to No. 3 Pepperdine on the road Friday.
“I just thought we weren’t at our best tonight, but still managed to make a match out of it,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “We battled really hard and played with a lot of energy, if not execution.”
Taylor Sander and Carson Heninger led the charge with 19 and 17 kills, respectively. Sander also had eight digs and a season-best six blocks, while Heninger had a career-best five blocks. Devin Young led at the net with eight blocks, tying his season high.
BYU posted a season-high 15 blocks, posting more kills (57-55) and a better hit clip (.242-.225) than the Waves (5-1, 5-1 MPSF). The loss snapped a six-match win streak for BYU.
Down 2-1 in the overall score, the Cougars turned the tables to start the fourth set, jumping ahead 3-1. The Waves stole the lead 6-5 on an ace and kept an advantage until Young and Heap blocked Wave Josh Taylor to cut the lead to 18-17. On the next play Pepperdine hit the ball long to tie the score 18-18.
BYU retook the lead 20-19 when a Sander attack was touched by the Waves on its way out. Pepperdine tied it up again at 22 and stuffed a BYU block to go ahead by one. The Cougars evened the score with the help of a service error and went ahead on a Sander kill 24-23. After four set-point opportunities for BYU, Heninger shut down the set on a kill 28-26, sending the match to a fifth set.
The Cougars took control 3-1 in the fifth set and maintained the lead until Pepperdine’s Taylor posted a kill, followed by a solo block to take a 9-8 lead for the Waves. Pepperdine wrapped up the match on a kill.
“It’s a hard place to play,” McGown said. “They’re good at home. They can serve well, and they do a lot of nice things. I thought their player [Josh] Taylor was really good for them down the stretch.”
After an exchange of kills to launch the match, BYU let the Waves skip ahead 10-5 on Cougar errors. BYU struggled to cut its deficit smaller than four points, and Pepperdine maintained its lead to take the first set 25-19.
The Cougars picked up their pace in the second set, with a Sander kill and Wave error giving BYU its largest lead yet at 10-7. Sander pushed the lead to 16-12 with a kill that proved too strong for Pepperdine’s back row.
Josue Rivera’s service ace, the Cougars’ first of the match, put BYU up 18-13. Ahead 20-15, BYU fired off three quick points, which included two blocks by Michael Hatch, and the Cougars closed out the set on a Rivera kill.
Tied at one in the overall match score, Pepperdine took the lead 3-1 in the third set. BYU managed to tie the set score at four, but the Waves answered with a 4-0 run to go up 8-4. Rivera’s second ace of the match capped off a 6-2 scoring streak for the Cougars that tied the score at 10.
From there, the Waves stole momentum and forged ahead 20-14. Hatch and Sander closed the gap to 22-20, but Pepperdine kept control and wrapped up the set 25-21.
BYU heads to Los Angeles to face No. 5 USC Saturday at 5 p.m. PST, its second top-five match of the weekend. Links to live video streaming and live stats can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.
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