PROVO, Utah – The No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team opened its season with a win, topping the University of Hawai’i 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-17) Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“I thought we played pretty well for our first match of the season,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “We would like to be a little cleaner with our serving but all things considered, we did a lot of really good things.”
Junior Taylor Sander lead the Cougars with 14 kills with a .542 hitting percentage. Freshman Ben Patch added eight kills and sophomore Phil Fuchs scored seven kills with senior Ryan Boyce adding 27 assists. Jace Olsen led the Warriors with 10 kills.
The first set proved to be a set of runs. Hawai’i scored the first point of the set before Patch got his first kill as a Cougar to put BYU on top 3-2 and spark a quick 4-2 run. The Warriors responded with their own 4-2 run, capitalizing on a couple of violations by the Cougars to tie the set at 8-8. Patch and Sander each had two kills to help spark a 9-4 run to push the lead to 17-12 and force Hawai’i to call a timeout. The two teams traded, with both squads committing errors. BYU won the set on a service error, 25-18, led by five kills from Sander and Patch.
To begin the second set, the Warriors and the Cougars exchanged points before two Sander kills gave BYU a 10-6 lead. Hawai’i’s Olsen registered two kills to spark a 4-2 run to tie the set at 12 and even the momentum. Two errors by the Warriors and a kill by Fuchs allowed the Cougars to take a 15-12 lead into the media timeout. Sander blocked a kill with his head and teamed with freshman Michael Hatch to block the next attack to push the lead to 20-15 in favor of BYU. With the Warriors gaining momentum, Fuchs notched two kills to stop their momentum and pull ahead 23-18. With the Cougars at set-point, a Warrior kill and an ace brought Hawai'i within two at 24-22. Sander’s 10th kill of the night won the set for BYU, 25-22.
The Cougars opened the third set with a 12-6 lead by capitalizing on a pair of Warrior errors and two kills by Sander and sophomore Josue Rivera. BYU forced three Hawai’i errors to push its lead to 20-12 before the Warriors responded with two points of their own. A service error by Hawai’i gave the Cougars a match point at 24-16 and another service error gave BYU the win. Sander had four kills on the set and Rivera added three to pace the Cougars.
BYU and Hawai'i play the second match of the two-game series Saturday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. MST at the Smith Fieldhouse.
Jared Houghton is a Sports Information Director who works in the BYU Athletic Communications with the men's and women's swimming teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions relating to swimming.