Strong Finish Lifts Cougars In Fifth Game
PROVO -- One night after the 2nd-ranked BYU Cougars defeated the top-ranked Hawai'i Warriors to secure the No. 1 seed and homecourt advantage throughout the MPSF Tournament, BYU defeated the Warriors again, but this time it took five sets 30-27, 28-30, 30-21, 26-30, 15-12, in a close contest Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
The BYU win combined with the 3-0 UCLA victory over Pacific, Long Beach State will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament. UCLA will be the No. 3 seed and Hawai'i drops to the No. 4 seed. With a victory against the Cougars, the Warriors would have been the second seed in the tournament.
On senior night for the Cougars, BYU traded games with Hawai'i to get the win. In what started as a repeat of Friday night's match, BYU came from behind in game one to take the victory. Down 20-18, BYU outscored Hawai'i 9-3 before going on to the 30-27 win.
"In the middle of the fourth game I was thinking, 'I don't care if we win or lose, this is a nice volleyball game,'" said BYU coach Carl McGown. Both teams were playing well. But, we were a good volleyball team tonight and that's the most important thing."
The BYU defense had another strong night, holding the nation's sixth-ranked offense to .198 on the night, forcing 37 attack errors and recording 20.5 team blocks. All-American middle blocker Scott Bunker recorded a match-high 13 blocks on the night. Joaquin Acosta and All-America candidate Mike Wall each added six blocks.
Hawai'i came back in the second game, going out to another 20-18 lead. This time the Cougars could not overcome the deficit. Down 28-24, BYU came back to pull within 29-28, but could not overcome Hawai'i's lead, falling in game two, 30-28.
The Cougars came out strong in game three, the most lop-sided game of the night. BYU never trailed in the game and went on to the 30-21 win.
Hawai'i won game four, setting up the decisive game five. In the last game, BYU got off to the early start, leading 8-6 before switching sides. BYU scored the first point after the switch, going up 9-6, and led by as many as four before winning the game, 15-12 to take the match, 3-2.
BYU improved to 20-3 on the season, 14-3 in the MPSF, while Hawai'i dropped to 17-6 and 12-5. This is the second time this year that BYU, ranked as the No. 2 team in the country, has beaten the top-ranked team in back-to-back nights.