Jake Langlois led No. 4 BYU men's volleyball past No. 8 UC Santa Barbara in a five-set thriller (25-20, 25-19, 19-25, 19-25, 15-13) Saturday night in a rematch at Robertson Gymnasium.
"I thought we came in with an entirely different attitude tonight," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "The guys played with a certain ferocity that they didn't have yesterday. We took some good swings early tonight and then were in a battle in the third and fourth sets. It was anyone's game there in the fifth. We had some bounces go our way. Santa Barbara's a great team. I told the guys they had to take a ton of confidence from getting a split this weekend. Hopefully the win gives the guys a message that we can be a really, really good team down the stretch."
Langlois led the Cougars with 17 kills in addition to a career-high seven blocks. Tyler Heap contributed 45 assists and a career-tying five blocks, while Jaylen Reyes added a team-high 11 digs. Michael Hatch led the team in blocks, collecting a season-high 10 in the BYU win. Additionally, Kiril Meretev added double-digit kills (13) in the victory.
It looked as if the Cougars (4-2, 3-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) would easily sweep the Gauchos (5-3, 1-3 MPSF) after winning the first two sets by a combined 11 points, but late-match heroics gave UCSB the next two sets, sending it to a decisive fifth.
The score was tied at 4-apiece in the fifth before a Hatch and Langlois block followed by two Gaucho attack errors gave BYU a three-point advantage at 7-4. UCSB kept things close by tying the set back up at 8-all, but two-straight Cougar points gave them an 11-9 edge. With the score tied at 11, BYU capitalized on a pair of Gaucho attack errors to go back up 13-11. UCSB stayed within a point at 14-13, but Langlois ended the set and match for the Cougars, 15-13, with a kill.
BYU got the first points of the first set with a Meretev kill and block to help the Cougars go up 4-1 early. UCSB responded by bringing it back within a point at 9-8, capitalizing on a pair of BYU errors. The Cougars then quickly countered with a 3-1 rally, which included a Langlois kill, to take a three-point advantage at 12-9. The two teams traded points back and forth from there with the Gauchos tying up the set from points 13 to 17. BYU followed with a 7-2 rally that gave the Cougars set point at 24-19. UCSB then fought off one set-ending point before a Gaucho service error secured the 25-20 BYU win.
Tim Dobbert got things started in the second set for the Cougars with a kill, and BYU extended its lead at 4-1 following a Meretev service ace. UCSB was undeterred, however, netting the next five-consecutive points to take a 6-4 edge. A trio of blocks from Hatch then helped secure the next six-straight points for the Cougars as his team retook a 10-6 lead, forcing a Gaucho timeout along the way. A Langlois kill capped off a 9-1 BYU rally, extending the Cougars' advantage to six at 13-7. BYU maintained its momentum, staying ahead 19-12 after another Dobbert kill. Despite a late rally from UCSB, the Cougars were able to easily take the second set, 25-19.
The Gauchos jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead in the third set, capitalizing on several BYU errors. The Cougars battled back, staying in the set down two at 9-7 following a Hatch and Langlois block. Following the roof, UCSB went on a 5-1 run to extend its lead to six at 14-8, forcing McGown to take a timeout. The teams traded points from there as a Gaucho service error kept BYU within reach, down 19-13. The Cougars had trouble slowing down UCSB's offense in the end as the Gauchos took the set, 25-19.
Three kills from Langlois helped BYU tie up the fourth set at an even 5-all. UCSB followed a 4-1 Cougar run with four-straight points of its own to go up 9-6, forcing a BYU timeout. The Cougars took their final timeout following another 4-1 Gaucho rally that put them up 16-10 midway through the set. Both sides exchanged scores from that point as UCSB went up by eight at 22-14 after a pair of BYU attack errors. Despite following with a 5-2 rally, the Cougars fell 25-19 for a second-straight set, sending it to the decisive fifth.
The Cougars return home to the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday at 7 p.m. MST, for the first of a pair of matchups against UC San Diego. Friday's match will be broadcast live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio. 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.