PROVO — Friday night's match between No. 3 BYU and No. 1 UC Irvine just got a bit more interesting thanks to a shocking comeback by Cal Baptist on Wednesday night. The defending national champion Anteaters suffered their first loss of the season in dramatic fashion, setting up an important showdown with national implications.
The setback for the Anteaters puts more on the line for both teams and should signal an intense and spirited contest Friday night. BYU should be prepared for the challenge due in large part to its two contests against Lewis last week.
The Cougars led the first match 2-0 before dropping the final three sets to the shock of a packed Smith Fieldhouse. BYU followed that defeat by sweeping Lewis out of the building with ease in straight sets (25-22, 25-16, 25-14) the following night.
The Anteaters are fresh off a similar setback as they looked to be cruising against Cal Baptist, leading two sets to none prior to losing momentum in the third and never regaining control, losing in five sets. While UC Irvine may not be happy about replicating BYU's recent loss, the defending national champions hope to continue to follow in the Cougars' footsteps and right the ship immediately.
The Anteaters are looking to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since dropping two straight to BYU in California last season on their home court and will be ready to return the favor in Provo on Friday night. The two teams are set to take the court at 7 p.m. at Smith Fieldhouse.