BYU volleyball: Cougars host MPSF semifinal matches Thursday
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
After a home sweep Saturday in the quarterfinals, No. 1 seed BYU men’s volleyball returns to the Smith Fieldhouse to host the semifinals and final of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
The Cougars face No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara on Thursday at 8 p.m. MDT, following No. 2 seed Pepperdine vs. No. 3 seed Stanford at 5.
BYU (19-8, 18-6 MPSF) comes off a convincing 3-0 win against No. 8 seed USC on Saturday, led by MPSF Player of the Year Taylor Sander’s 13 kills. Setter Robbie Sutton made his first career start, playing for regular starter Tyler Heap who is listed day-to-day with a sprained ankle. Sutton recorded a career-high 36 assists in the sweep of USC.
The Cougars held the Trojans to 48 combined points in the match, USC’s fewest in the rally-scoring era. USC's 13 points in the opening set were its fewest in a 25-point set since getting 13 versus Hawaii in 2002.
BYU is No. 4 in the most recent AVCA coaches poll, and UC Santa Barbara is No. 5. Pepperdine, which tied BYU for a share of the MPSF regular-season title, is No. 2 and Stanford is No. 3. The next poll will be released April 28.
UC Santa Barbara (18-8, 16-8 MPSF) fought off UCLA in a five-set home victory Saturday to earn the semifinal berth. Down 2-1 after three sets, the Gauchos came back from a 14-7 deficit to win the fourth set, 25-20, and the fifth set, 15-12, behind Evan Licht’s 17 kills.
Pepperdine (19-6, 18-6 MPSF) defeated Long Beach State in its quarterfinal match Saturday, taking down the 49ers, 3-1, at home. The Waves lost the first set but rattled off victories in the next three sets to take the match. Kyle Gerrans led the Waves with a career-high 17 kills, helped out by Matt West’s 44 assists.
Also battling in a five-set match in the quarterfinals, Stanford (21-7, 17-7 MPSF) managed to defeat defending national champion UC Irvine on the Cardinal’s home court. Stanford overcame a 13-12 Anteater lead in the fifth set to take the win, led by Brian Cook’s 21 kills and nine digs.
With no upsets in the quarterfinals, all four top seeds in the tournament reached the semifinal matches this season.
BYUtv will broadcast the UC Santa Barbara vs. BYU match on Thursday, as well as the championship match on Saturday should BYU advance. Thursday’s semifinal between Stanford and Pepperdine will be streamed live on TheW.tv. Links to live video streaming and live stats for both matches, as well as live audio streaming for the UC Santa Barbara vs. BYU match, are available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.
Full-session tickets, which include admission to both semifinal matches and the final, are on sale now at the BYU Ticket Office. Semifinal tickets go on sale Thursday.
Rachel Hawks is the men's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.
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