PROVO — It was supposed to be a highly competitive bout between the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the nation, but in the end the BYU men's volleyball team handled Hawaii like it usually does at Smith Fieldhouse. The visiting Rainbow Warriors haven't won in Provo since 2003 and left Friday's match without winning a set after being overwhelmed 28-26, 25-18, 25-20 by the nearly flawless No. 3-ranked Cougars.
Brenden Sander and Jake Langlois led the way for the Cougars, scoring 14 and 13 kills, respectively, while hitting well over .400 percent from the net, individually. After battling out a tight first set, the duo really hit its stride in the second set.
"I personally came out really flat in the first and I think I just dragged down my team a little bit," Langlois said.
No matter how much Langlois may have dragged his team down in the first set, he made up for it and then some in the second set, scoring seven kills on a .667 hitting percentage. The 6-foot-10 senior was scoring from everywhere — whether it be powering through blocks or by using a bit of finesse — as he led what was pretty much a Cougar clinic throughout the second set and into the third.
"He can really take over a rally (and) a play," said BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said of Jake Langlois. "And it's really exciting to have two players like that."
That other player referenced would be Sander, who has been battling knee issues all year, but looked to just about be over that. The 6-3 junior played the entire match Friday while proving as effective as Langlois.
"Credit to (Brenden) for staying the course when things weren't going his way. You can get really frustrated," Olmstead said. "He's really stayed focused through that stretch."
The Cougars were again without Ben Patch, who is still nursing a groin injury, but also had to make do on Friday without starting middle blocker Price Jarman, who rolled his ankle just prior to the match. Stepping up to replace Jarman were freshman Miki Jauhiainen and senior Joseph Grosh, who both received praise from Olmstead for their work, along with the rest of the team.
"It's just a credit to the entire team," Olmstead said. "It's tough to go through (injuries), but guys have shown an unbelievable (amount of) concentration when those things have happened. Luckily we have some guys who have had some pretty good minutes."
Hawaii showed some life in the third set and led 16-14 before the Cougars went on a 6-1 run to build a 20-17 lead before closing things out. The Cougars' final points were the result of dominating blocks, as BYU's wing players rejected everything the Rainbow Warriors tried over the net.
"Last year we were a monster blocking team and tonight we finally saw a little of (that)," Langlois said. "I think we were being disciplined in getting straight over and we were seeing a lot more blocks."
With the win BYU (12-1 in conference play) separates itself from Hawaii (10-3) for second place in the MPSF standings. The two teams will play again on Saturday and the match will be televised live on BYUtv.