PROVO In a hard-fought match, the No. 4 BYU men's volleyball team came back from a 2-1 deficit to win the last two games and take the match 3-2 over the No. 14 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Friday night.
Star outside hitter Ivan Perez dominated with 27 kills while hitting .444. He also had four blocks as BYU snapped a three-match losing streak and improved to 18-4 on the season. UCSB fell to 6-10.
"Our middles were doing a great job," Perez said. "(They) were having outstanding nights, so that opened me up on the outside."
UCSB outside hitter Jeff Menzel was unstoppable in the first game, hitting .583 and getting eight of his team-high 19 kills.
The Gauchos used a late 3-0 run to take a 26-21 lead. The Cougars managed to cut the deficit to three, but UCSB scored three of the final four points, the last on middle blocker Theo Brunner's hard kill in the middle of the court, to take a 30-25 win.
BYU bounced back in the second game, as Perez set the tone early with some spectacular plays to help the Cougars charge out to an 8-4 lead.
On one play, the ball was blocked high into the air over the net, Perez waited for it to come down and pounded it into the floor.
After the Gauchos scored three straight points to cut BYU's six-point lead in half, Perez took over again. He immediately got a kill, and then he blocked Menzel's hard swing in spectacular fashion to help BYU get their lead back to 25-19.
The two teams traded points from there, and the Cougars took the game 30-25 on a hard kill in the middle from middle blocker Russell Holmes.
UCSB looked like they would blow BYU out early in the third game, jumping out to an 18-10 lead, but the Cougars chipped away and eventually went on an 8-3 run to cut the gap to 25-24.
After the Gauchos scored the next two points, BYU responded with the next three to tie the score at 27. The game remained tight until the Cougars committed a pair of errors to give the Gauchos a 31-29 win.
With the score tied at 7-7 in the fourth game, BYU used an 8-4 run and back-to-back blocks to take a 15-11 lead.
They were never really threatened from there, holding a comfortable lead for most of the game, which they took 30-24 on outside hitter Jeff Robinson's kill.
The Cougars never trailed in the decisive fifth game, scoring the first three points and then holding off UCSB to get a 15-11 win.
Rightside hitter Jonathan Charette ended the match on a kill down the line.