PROVO — Straight sets was all that was needed as the No. 5 BYU men's volleyball team defeated No. 10 Pepperdine (25-22, 25-23, 25-20) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday for their first home sweep of the year.
"Anytime we get a block, it's huge, and the crowd goes wild," said BYU outside hitter Taylor Sander. "We're one of the best blocking teams in the nation. That really helps our momentum and helps our energy throughout the game, and especially tonight. Getting a big block is a big momentum changer and we were able to control the momentum tonight."
Sander led all players with 13 kills and six digs. Robb Stowell added eight kills as Russ Lavaja, Josue Rivera, and Futi Tavana all had seven.
Lavaja led all players in the match with six total blocks and is now third on BYU's all-time career total blocks list. Tavana joins Lavaja on the all-time list in second place, just five blocks away from being the all-time leader.
The Cougars took the first set, capitalizing on late miscues and costly errors by the Waves. After the Waves tied it at 21-all, the Cougars reeled off five of the last six points to win the set 25-22.
Pepperdine gained the momentum right back to start the second set, taking an early 5-2 lead. After a seesaw battle with several long rallies, the Cougars took their first lead of the set at 12-11. Up 24-23, setter Joe Kauliakamoa blasted a kill to take the set and 2-0 lead in the match. Kauliakamoa finished the match with four kills, 35 assists and seven digs.
In the third set, BYU jumped to an early 6-2 lead behind kills from Tavana and Rivera but Pepperdine roared back to take a 10-9 lead. However, Sander tied it right back with a crushing kill. After ten ties in the final set, BYU reeled off five straight points for the sweep.
The Cougars travel to face Hawaii next weekend.
UTAH 11-1, UAB 0-2: At Birmingham, Ala., after closing out the first game of the series with an 11-0 win, the Utah baseball team dropped a 2-1 decision against UAB in Game 2.
Friday's game (which was suspended in the middle of the ninth inning due to rain) ended with a 1-2-3 inning from Kesley Kondo on the mound. He had one strikeout. Starter Joe Pond picked up the win, going to 2-1 on the season.
Utah's Brock Duke and UAB's Ben Bullard spent most of game two locked in a pitchers dual. The Utes took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on base hits from Jo Jo Sharrar and Josh Alexander. UAB left two on base in the third inning, while the Utes stranded a pair in the seventh. The Blazers tied the game in the seventh by taking advantage of a Ute error. Although UAB loaded the bases with two outs, the Utes dropped the ball on the force out at second for what would have been the third out of the inning, allowing the runner to score.
Utah rallied with two outs in the 11th inning, putting two on after Trey Nielsen singled and Gavin Green walked, but could not continue the momentum. UAB would score in the bottom of the 11th on a squeeze play after loading the bases.
"I am proud of our pitching and defense today, we just didn't get it done offensively," Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "Brock Duke was really good, and our defense was really good, but it was overshadowed by our lack of offense."
Duke went six innings, allowing six hits and giving up one earned run. He struck out five. Tyler Wagner, who entered in the seventh inning, went 41/3 innings, walking three and striking out four. He earns the loss to go to 0-2 on the year.
Sharrar led Utah with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate.
Utah and UAB play the rubber match today at 11 a.m. Utah will start RHP Ben Mordini on the mound, with UAB throwing RHP Tanner Bryant.
UTAH SOFTBALL: Senior right-hander Generra Nielson struck out 12 in 111/3 innings in the circle as she helped the University of Utah softball team push its winning streak to nine games Saturday in the New Mexico Invitational at Lobo Softball Stadium. The Utes edged North Dakota in the first game of the day, 4-3, before beating Cal State Bakersfield, 5-2.
In addition to their current nine-game win streak, the Utes have taken 12 of their last 13.
Nielson picked up the win in both decisions on the day as she allowed three earned runs on eight hits. The Blanding, Utah native improved to 9-2 this year and fanned 12, while only walking four.
The offense was paced by a 3-for-5 day from senior third baseman Whitney Holm, who connected on her eighth home run of the season and now has 35 over her career. The Spanish Fork, Utah native leads the Pac-12 Conference with 23 RBIs this season.
Katelyn Elliott, Tia Palauni and Kelsi Hoopiiaina each had two hits apiece on the day. Elliott and Palauni added two RBI as well, while freshman outfielder Kate Dickman drove in two runs as well.
North Dakota scored all three of its runs in the top of the third inning, but Utah came back with two of its own in the bottom of the frame. Junior second baseman Jackie Sweet started the rally by reaching third base after an error by the UND right fielder before Elliott knocked an RBI single up the middle for her third run driven in this season. Sandi Bowles re-entered the game as a pinch-runner for Elliott and tallied the Utes' second run after a hit a triple to right field off a 3-1 delivery.
The fourth and fifth innings were scoreless before Utah came up with the equalizer in the sixth when the Utes benefitted by another three-base error by UND, this one on a ball hit to right field by freshman Marissa Mendenhall. Dickman then launched a sacrifice fly to center field to drive Mendenhall in for Utah's third run of the contest.
Utah captured the game-winning score in the bottom of the seventh when Sweet drew a leadoff walk before taking second on a bunt single by Bowles. Palauni then lined a 2-2 delivery to right center that allowed Sweet to plate the walk-off score.
Palauni was the lone Ute in the contest with two or more hits as she was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
In the circle, Nielson threw her sixth complete game and the 17th of her Utah career. She allowed three earned runs on five hits to go with 10 strikeouts, compared to only three walks. Nielson has struck out 10 or more hitters six times this season.
With the win, the Utes evened their record to 1-1 in one-run games this season. Their only other one-run decision this year came in a 6-5 loss to UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 11 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
The Utes got out of the gates fast in the second game of the day with two runs in the bottom of the first inning against Cal State Bakersfield. Hoopiiaina started the game with a leadoff double and Palauni drew a walk before Mendenhall looped an RBI single to push Hoopiiaina across home plate for the first score. Palauni would later score on an RBI groundout to the CSB shortstop by Dickman.
Utah put up another two-run inning in the fourth frame as Elliott launched a leadoff home run, the third of her career and second this season, to left field on the first pitch she saw. Not to be outdone, Sweet connected for another solo shot with one out in the same inning to give Utah a 4-0 advantage. It was Sweet's second round-tripper of the year and the fifth of her career at Utah.
The Roadrunners responded promptly with a pair of their own runs in their half of the fifth, but Holm's eighth home run of the year, a solo shot to center field, set the final margin at 5-2. Holm was 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI against the Roadrunners.
In the circle, Nielson completed 41/3 innings for her fifth straight victory. Sophomore Naomi Amu threw the remaining 2.2 innings and allowed one earned run on three hits to go with three strikeouts.
The Utes will play another doubleheader today, starting with a rematch against North Dakota at 9 a.m. Utah's final game of the New Mexico Invitational will be against the host Lobos at 11 a.m. MT.
UTAH SWIMMING: At Los Angeles, Utah earned fifth-place with 258.5 points at the Pac-12 Championships, beating out UCSB (251.5), Arizona State (221.5) and Cal Poly (120). Stanford took home the title for the 31st consecutive year (939.5) as Cal took the runner-up spot (808) and No. 1 ranked Arizona was third (543). USC brought home fourth place (517).
Major Robinson moved up from third all-time when he recorded the fastest 200 back time in Utah history with a time of 1:45.47 in the preliminaries. Robinson touched in 1:45.72 in the finals to take 15th. Austin Fiascone snagged 23rd (1:51.23) with a new personal record as Seth Wynn came in 25th (1:53.43) and John Tilghman was 27th (1:54.31).
Ryan Hansen earned his second school record of the championships with his 15:97.03 finals time in the 1,650 free, placing him third all-time. Hansen dropped almost 20 seconds from his previous best and took 10th in the Pac. Eric Bonicelli grabbed 17th in the same event (15.48.63).
In an exact tie, Bjorn Gunnarsson and Allen Wade of UCSB touched in 44.55 in the 100 free finals to split 18th place. Gunnarsson earned eight all-time for his efforts.
Winter Heaven and Alex Brown both reached new personal records in the 100 free and took 32nd and 34 respectfully (45.54 and 45.59). Alexandre Fernandes was .01 seconds shy of Brown and took 35th (45.60).
Two more Utah records were rewritten as Ken Tiltges and Corey Williams took over sixth (2:01.76) and 10th all-time (2:02.48) in the 200 breast. The men placed 13th and 15th.
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Freshman Graham Charlton earned the Utes top time in the 200 fly, bringing home 23rd (1:53.42). Teammate Eric Bonicelli touched right behind in 24th (1:54.96).
Nick Soedel, Karson Applin, Gunnarsson and Tiltges teamed up in the 400 free relay for the final event of the night. The men's time of 2:54.40 was the fastest time in school history. The Utes broke four school records in relay events over the course of the championships.
BYU SOFTBALL: At Santee, Calif., pinch hitter Carly Duckworth's RBI clinched a 2-1 win over Long Beach State at the San Diego Classic before the Cougars cruised by Charlotte 9-0 in five innings.