Sophomore opposite Ben Patch led No. 3 BYU men's volleyball to a sweep (25-20, 25-23, 25-20) of No. 9 UC Irvine on Friday night at the Bren Events Center.
"This was a nice team effort," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "The energy was good and the team stayed the course throughout the match. We got the right hitters going at the right time. Ben was a huge presence for us tonight."
Patch led the Cougars with 16 kills and no errors to hit a season-high .667 clip. He also added a match-high four blocks. Erik Sikes totaled nine digs to lead the team, while Michael Hatch chipped in a trio of blocks, kills and digs. Leo Durkin contributed 31 assists to direct the offense, while Brenden Sander and Jake Langlois added seven and six kills, respectively.
BYU (5-2, 3-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) took an early 3-1 lead in the first set following a Hatch kill before UC Irvine (2-5, 1-4 MPSF) tied the score at 5-all. The Anteaters took their first lead of the set, 9-8, after a Tamir Hershko service ace, but the Cougars countered with three straight to retake an 11-9 edge. A UC Irvine service error gave BYU the 15-12 advantage, but the Anteaters picked up on their offensive attack to come back within a point, down 17-16. The Cougars then quickly took control with an overpass kill from Langlois capping off a 4-1 run to bring his team back up, 21-17. BYU eventually took the set, 25-20, on a UC Irvine attack error.
Sander scored the first two points of the second set for the Cougars en route to a 5-2 BYU lead. The Anteaters tightened up the score by tying it at seven apiece, but a 5-1 Cougar run forced UC Irvine to take its first timeout of the set down 12-8. A Patch ace extended BYU's advantage to five at 16-11, but four-consecutive Anteater points brought them back within a point at 16-15. The Cougars were once again up, 21-17, in the set after a Hatch and Patch block. UC Irvine then found its offensive momentum to stifle one set point before a Price Jarman kill down the middle of the back row gave BYU the close 25-23 set two win.
The third set began evenly contested before a trio of Anteater attack errors put the Cougars ahead 10-8. An off-speed roll kill from Sander helped BYU go up 15-12 and force UC Irvine to take its first timeout. Langlois later delivered a service ace as the Cougars went ahead by five, 19-14. BYU powered through from there to win the set, 25-20, and complete the sweep.
The Cougars return to the Bren Events Center on Saturday, Jan. 30, for a rematch beginning at 2 p.m. PST. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU men's volleyball schedule page.
Royce Hinton is the men's and women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.