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BYU volleyball: No. 4 Cougars collect 10th season win vs. Stanford

By Rachel Hawks

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15 2014 11:45 p.m. MST

STANFORD, Calif. A season-high 27 kills by Taylor Sander gave No. 4 BYU a 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-7) road victory against No. 8 Stanford on Saturday.

"We got a really good start, played phenomenally good volleyball in the first set," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "Both teams did, for that matter. It was a crazy, high-level match from the start. I thought the guys executed the game plan pretty well. We did a nice job defensively against them down the stretch. That's a really, really good team, so for us to come in here on a long road trip — the second night of a tough stretch — and play well, I was really impressed with the boys effort."

Sander hit .417 on the night, also contributing two aces, six digs and four blocks. Josue Rivera joined him in double figures with 12 kills, eight digs and three service aces.

Tyler Heap tallied a double-double of 53 assists and 10 digs to lead the team in both categories. Michael Hatch led the team with seven blocks.

The Cougars (10-3, 10-1 MPSF) hit .331, their best hitting percentage in a five-set match this season. BYU led in digs, 45-44, in its 10th win of the season, while Stanford (8-5, 5-5 MPSF) led in kills, 65-60.

Surging ahead in the fifth set, BYU put up six unanswered points before a service error gave the Cardinal their first point of the set. Sander quickly turned that into an 8-1 run with back-to-back kills. Stanford added a few more points to its total, but Cardinal service errors set Sander up to finish the set, 15-7.

BYU kept it close to start the first set, tying the score 2-2, 4-4 and 5-5, before taking its first lead on a Devin Young block. The Cardinal stayed close, tying the score eight more times but never gaining advantage over the Cougars. BYU finally collected four points in a row off kills by Carson Heninger and Sander and back-to-back Rivera aces to take a 17-13 lead.

Stanford cut the deficit to two points at 22-20 going down the stretch. Young put the Cougars at set point, 24-21, on a kill and finished of the set 25-22 on another kill.

The teams were neck-and-neck again to start the second set, with neither team pulling ahead until a block by Rivera, Heninger and Young put BYU up 8-6. Heninger built on that lead with a kill followed by a service ace to put the Cougars ahead 11-7.

BYU held off the Cardinal until two Stanford kills and a Cougar error tied the score at 17. Stanford gained the advantage on a kill by Steven Irvin and bounced ahead 24-19 on a 5-0 run. The Cardinal wrapped up the 25-20 set on a kill to tie the overall score at one set apiece.

Down 3-1 to start the third set, BYU regrouped to launch another series of ties. Matt Underwood kicked off a 4-0 run with a kill, helped out by Heap. The run put BYU on top 13-11, forcing a Stanford timeout. Sander’s 14th kill of the night put the Cougars ahead 17-12. More kills by Sander kept BYU ahead by at least three to finish off the set, 25-21.

Falling behind early in the fourth set, the Cougars struggled to recover from a 14-9 deficit. A 4-0 run late in the set cut the score to 22-20, but Stanford scored the next three points to take the set, 25-20.

With the win, BYU has swept the 2014 series with Stanford. The Cougars have won their last four matches and will now take a bye week before hosting USC on Feb. 28.

Rachel Hawks is the men's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.

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