STANFORD, Calif. – In its final regular-season match, the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team swept No. 8 Stanford (30-28, 25-18, 25-21) on the road Saturday.
“Stanford is a wonderful team with great players and is well coached,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “For us to win in three at Stanford is pretty remarkable. We went in there with focus and energy.”
The Cougars finish the regular season 21-4 overall and 20-3 in the MPSF, claiming the MPSF regular season title by three matches. The Cardinal falls to 15-11 overall and 12-11 in MPSF play.
“The boys did a nice job tonight,” McGown said. “It’s hard being on the road and having to travel and all that goes with that, and to continue to be energetic night after night. We hung in there when times got tough in the first set and kept battling. That’s been the story of this team, we keep battling and find ways to win.”
Freshman Ben Patch led the attack with 14 kills, with seven coming in the first set, and added six digs. Juniors Devin Young and Taylor Sander joined Patch in double figures with 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Sander contributed two aces, six digs and three blocks.
A kill from Sander sparked a 3-0 run for the Cougars to pull ahead 10-6 in the first set. The Cardinal went on the attack after that and rattled off a 6-0 run of its own to flip the score in its favor, 14-12, until Patch ended the run with a kill. Trailing 22-19, the Cougars took advantage of a pair of Stanford attack errors to come back and tie the set at 22 apiece. The teams exchanged points before Stanford went up 24-23. BYU held off two Cardinal set points until a block by Russ Lavaja and Sander gave the Cougars their own turn at set point, 26-25. Stanford came back to tie the set up again and take a third attempt at set point, but a long serve halted the effort. A BYU block brought up another Cougar set point and on their third attempt they finished the set off, 30-28.
BYU took its first lead in set two, 5-4, after a pair of kills from Young and Patch. The Cardinal kept it close and took the lead back at 9-8 before pulling ahead 11-9. The Cougars scored three straight to regain the lead, and a Patch kill put BYU on top by two. A pair of kills from Lavaja padded the Cougars’ lead to 18-14. BYU put even more room between it and the home team, 23-18, after back-to-back kills from Young. BYU kept the momentum and wrapped up the game 25-18.
Josue Rivera recorded a service ace to give BYU the 7-5 advantage in the third set. The Cougars forged ahead 14-8 after a slew of Cardinal errors, but Stanford turned it around with a 6-0 run to tie the set before Young ended the run. A Lavaja kill gave BYU the 21-19 lead, and Sander followed it up with another kill to move the Cougars in front by three. Patch positioned BYU with match point 24-21, and Sander completed the sweep with an ace.
The Cougars return to the Smith Fieldhouse for their MPSF quarterfinal match Saturday at 7 p.m. MDT. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv.
Whitney Weekes works in BYU Athletic Communications as the men's volleyball SID and football media relations assistant. She can be reached at email@example.com.