For the second night in a row, Ben Patch led No. 3 BYU men's volleyball past No. 9 UC Irvine in straight sets (26-24, 28-26, 25-15) Saturday at the Bren Events Center to complete the series sweep.
"Another great team performance by the group," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "All of our hitters stayed active and competed the entire match. Our overall serve and pass was strong today."
Patch led the Cougars with 17 kills on a .467 clip to go along with four digs and three blocks. Leo Durkin paced the offense with 32 assists, while Erik Sikes anchored the defense with eight digs. Jake Langlois added a team-high six blocks in addition to double-digit kills with 10 in the win.
BYU (6-2, 4-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) took an early 6-4 advantage over UC Irvine (2-6, 1-5 MPSF) to begin the first set with help from three Anteater service errors. A Durkin ace helped the Cougars go up by four and an overpass kill from Patch brought BYU ahead by six, 15-9. The Cougars led by as many as seven before a 4-1 UC Irvine run forced Olmstead to take his first timeout with his team up 18-14. The Anteaters eventually came back to tie the set at 23-all following consecutive BYU attack errors. UC Irvine stymied one set point before another kill from Patch ended the set for the Cougars, 26-24.
A pair of thunderous Patch kills helped BYU take a 4-2 edge early in the second set. The teams remained neck-to-neck after a 5-all tie until an Anteater ace gave them a two-point 15-13 advantage midway through the set. UC Irvine slowly worked up a 20-16 lead before the Cougars scored the next three, capped off by a triple block, to come back within one at 20-19. BYU retook the lead 23-22 after a bad set from the Anteaters. UC Irvine fended off two set points before scoring the next two to give it a set point. A Patch kill kept the Cougars alive, which was followed by a Price Jarman and Patch block, to bring up another BYU set point. Michael Hatch then served an ace to give the Cougars a second tightly-contested set.
The score was tied in the first six points of the third set until another Patch kill brought BYU ahead, 8-6. The Anteaters took their first timeout of the set after back-to-back Langlois kills extended the Cougars' advantage at 11-8. BYU led by as many as five points at 13-8, but UC Irvine scored the next three straight to come back within two, down 13-11. The Cougars rallied with the next six points to take its largest lead of the night at 19-11. BYU cruised from there, taking the set and match, 25-15, on a Langlois kill.
The Cougars return home to the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. MST, when they host UC Santa Barbara. 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.