LONG BEACH, Calif. — The No. 3-ranked BYU men's volleyball team was swept out of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) tournament on Thursday in surprising fashion. Matched up with No. 4 Hawaii in the semifinal round, the Cougars were swept in straight sets (25-22, 25-23, 25-22) and summarily bounced from the tournament.
The loss puts BYU's aspirations for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in question, with the committee set to announce the participants in the six-team playoff following the conclusion of the conference tournaments this weekend. Four teams will receive automatic bids, with the Cougars now hoping to receive an invitation.
Even though the Cougars beat Hawaii in straight sets in two matches played in mid-March, they found themselves playing from behind from the get-go.
In the first set, the Rainbow Warriors got off to an early 3-0 lead before closing out the set 25-22. The Cougars did show some fight — battling back to take an 18-16 lead, but then yielded four of the five final points of the set for the loss.
The second and third sets largely followed the same path, with the Cougars incurring early 3-1 and 3-0 deficits, respectively. The Rainbow Warriors finished strongly in the third — outscoring the Cougars 6-2 down the stretch to take the final set 25-22 and advance to the championship match.
The Rainbow Warriors were led by Kupono Fey, who scored a match-high 16 kills on a .464 hitting percentage. The Cougars were led by Jake Langlois, Ben Patch and Brenden Sander, who scored 15, 14 and 11 kills, respectively.
Patch, who has been sidelined for a good portion of the season with a groin injury, played the entire match in favor of Tim Dobbert. He responded with his 14 kills on a .385 hitting percentage.
BYU hit for an impressive .388 percentage as a team, but the Rainbow Warriors hit at a .429 clip while outblocking the Cougars 7.5-5.