Despite a career night from Phil Fuchs, No. 6 BYU men's volleyball fell in four sets (26-24, 25-17, 23-25, 27-25) to No. 4 Pepperdine on Saturday night at Firestone Fieldhouse.
"Another tough, close road loss tonight," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "I like the fight our guys showed in the third and fourth sets after being down 2-0 early on. We had a chance to take it to a fifth but couldn't capitalize. There were a lot of missed opportunities tonight. We're looking forward to playing at home next week."
Fuchs led the Cougars with a career-high 22 kills to go along with nine digs for a near double-double. Joseph Grosh collected a team-high four blocks, while Carson Heninger added nine digs to aid in the defensive effort. Robbie Sutton had a team-high 28 assists to go along with seven digs. Jake Langlois contributed double-digit kills for BYU with 16 while Heninger added 10.
Pepperdine (17-4, 12-4 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) scored the first two points of the first set from a kill and Cougar service error. BYU (13-7, 10-6 MPSF) rebounded by taking a 5-4 edge after a Heninger kill. The two teams stayed neck-to-neck from there as a Grosh kill evened the score at 12-apiece. Neither team had more than a point lead until an ace from the Waves put them up 19-17, forcing McGown to take his first timeout of the set. BYU scored the next three points, capped off by a Heninger and Grosh block, to take a 20-19 advantage. The Cougars fought back a set point with Pepperdine up 24-23, but the Waves took the closely contested set, 26-24, after straight kills.
Pepperdine jumped out to a 3-1 lead to begin the second set, but a pair of kills from Fuchs tied the score back at 3-3. Fuchs collected his 10th kill of the match to bring BYU back within a point, trailing 9-8 in another close set. Three kills from the Waves' Parker Kalmbach fueled a 3-1 run for Pepperdine, as it took a 13-10 lead near the midway point of the set. The Waves slowly extended their lead to eight at 21-13 following a 7-1 rally as the Cougars struggled to defend Pepperdine's offensive prowess. The Waves easily took the set, 25-17, on a kill.
BYU took the 5-2 advantage early in the third set with help from another pair of Fuchs kills and a solo block from Grosh. Pepperdine stayed in the match, however, down just one at 11-10 following a kill from Matt Tarantino. Despite tying the set at 12-all, a kill from Langlois kept the Cougars ahead 15-13, forcing a timeout from the Waves. BYU had a four-point lead at 22-18, but Pepperdine quickly went on a 5-1 run to knot things back up at 23-23. A service error from the Waves gave the Cougars set point, and a Heninger kill ended the set in BYU's favor, 25-23.
A Sutton dump kill helped put the Cougars ahead 5-3 to begin the fourth set. Despite Pepperdine tying the set up at the seven-point mark, BYU maintained an advantage at 13-11 after another Langlois kill. The Waves took a timeout after a 3-1 Cougar rally put them up 19-16 coming down the home stretch of the set. A Michael Hatch kill brought up set point for BYU at 24-22, but Pepperdine's Josh Taylor collected a pair of quick kills to even the score at 24-all. Consecutive Cougar attack errors finished the set and match for the Waves, 27-25.
The Cougars return home to the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday to play in the first of a pair of matchups against UC Irvine at 7 p.m. MDT. The 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.