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.
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