Career nights from outside hitters and middle blockers helped No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball take down Pacific (25-19, 25-16, 20-25, 25-19), 3-1, on the road Friday.
"I thought the thing that was going to be the biggest issue coming into the match was getting back into the swing of the rhythm of competition after a weekend off," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "That's always a little bit of a question mark. I thought we came out with quite a bit of fire and energy. I was really impressed. But you could tell we weren't terribly sharp. It didn't by any means upset me that we lost that third set because it gave us a chance to play a little bit more and to work through some of those problems."
Outside hitter Josue Rivera led the Cougars (9-4, 9-1 MPSF) with 13 kills on a career-high .579 hit clip and three service aces. Phil Fuchs recorded a career-high 11 kills off the bench, hitting .421, and a career-high five blocks.
Middle blocker Michael Hatch set a season high and tied his career high with nine blocks. He was helped out by Carson Heninger’s career-high seven blocks. Tyler Heap had 30 assists and eight digs to lead the team in both categories.
"We had some interesting lineup combinations that we don't play too much," McGown said. "I thought it was good to get some of our other guys in the match, give them some game experience."
BYU had a season-high 18.5 blocks and led Pacific in kills, 54-38.
After giving the first two points of the match to Pacific, the Cougars rattled off seven-straight points. A 4-0 run by Pacific cut the Cougars’ lead to 14-10, but Taylor Sander shut down the streak on a kill. Back-to-back-to-back aces by Rivera increased BYU’s lead to 20-13. With the Cougars at 24 points, the Tigers closed the gap to five, but Rivera finished up the set, 25-19, on a kill.
BYU started the second set much the same as the first, springing ahead to 8-1. Pacific cut the lead down to 10-7, but three kills from Rivera gave the Cougars back a comfortable 15-9 lead. Finding themselves up 20-13 once more, the Cougars held on to take the set 25-16 on a block by Fuchs and Devin Young.
By the end of the second set, Fuchs had tied his previous career high for kills in a match with eight.
Pacific kept it close in the third set, tying the score at four and taking the lead, 5-4, on an error, the Tigers’ first lead since the beginning of the first set. BYU couldn’t overcome a three-point deficit until Hatch aced a serve and tied the score at 11. Jake Langlois, helped out by an assist from Underwood, retook the lead for the Cougars on a kill, 14-13.
Pacific rallied, stringing together five points to steal back the lead, 19-15. BYU let the Tigers reach a six-point lead, Pacific’s largest of the match. The Tigers took the set, 25-20, on a kill.
BYU led 6-2 early in the fourth until a Cougar error tied the score at 7-7. BYU and Pacific exchanged leads four times before Rivera came up with a kill to push the Cougars ahead, 15-13. A 4-0 Cougar run, fueled by two blocks from Fuchs and Hatch, put BYU in position for match point. Fuchs finished off the match on a kill, 25-19.
The Cougars take on Stanford on Saturday at 7 p.m. PST on the Pac-12 Network at Maples Pavilion.
Rachel Hawks is the men's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.
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