Despite career highs from three players, No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball fell to No. 8 Pepperdine, 3-1 (25-23, 31-33, 23-25, 22-25), at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
“It's a tough loss for the guys because when the sets are that close, those are a little tougher than other losses," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We have to have some thick skin here. It just came down to small things, but unfortunately the small things can add up. All credit to them for coming here and beating us, bouncing back after a loss."
This loss breaks a 13-match win streak for BYU (17-3, 13-3 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation). Pepperdine (11-7, 10-7 MPSF) had seven aces in the match to just one for the Cougars.
Jake Langlois led the team with a career-high 24 kills while adding five digs and the lone ace of the match for BYU. Brenden Sander and Ben Patch added double-digit kills with 14 and 16, respectively. Another career high in the match came for Leo Durkin who had 60 assists. He also added six digs. Libero Evan Chang had a career-high eight digs to lead the team in the back row.
The Cougars got off to a hot start in the first set, opening up with a 7-1 run that included four errors by the Waves. After trading a couple of points, a block from Sander and Price Jarman made it 9-5 in favor of BYU. After a missed serve by Pepperdine, BYU scored four unanswered points to extend the lead to 15-8. Making the lead 20-13, Jarman drilled a shot straight down for the kill.
The Waves rallied back in the first set, going on a 4-0 run that included two aces to get within one, 23-22. Langlois scored the last two points for the Cougars, including a deep corner kill that won the first set 25-23.
After Pepperdine struck first in the second set, a pair of kills from Sander brought BYU back up 3-1. Following a couple of points for the Waves, Sander’s attack tipped off the block, giving him another kill and extended the Cougars’ 7-5 lead. Langlois tipped the ball right behind the block to trip up the defense, pushing the lead to 12-8.
Following a 4-1 run from Pepperdine to tie the game, Langlois’ sharp-cross kill put BYU back on top, 15-14. The two teams traded points, neither able to go on a run. Langlois’ roll shot got the Cougars to set point, 24-22, but the Waves fought back to tie it at 24-all. Pepperdine fought off seven set points for BYU to get the advantage and take the second set 33-31.
BYU opened the third set with a 3-0 run that included two kills from Patch. Langlois drilled two kills in a row to put the Cougars up 6-3. Highlighted by a block, BYU scored three more unanswered points. However, Pepperdine responded with a 3-0 run of its own, making it 12-10. Neither team was able to score more than two in a row until the Waves scored five straight to get to set point, 24-21. The Cougars score two in a row, but the late rally was not enough as Pepperdine took the third set 25-23.
A few errors by the Waves put the Cougars up early on in the fourth set. Pepperdine went on a 7-0 run and took the 13-10 lead before Langlois ended it with a kill. After another ace for the Waves, the Cougars called a timeout and sparked a big block from Tim Dobbert and Michael Hatch, making it 17-15.
The teams traded points for a few rallies with Pepperdine keeping BYU at bay, until a few errors gave the Cougars two in a row, making it 22-21 and forcing a Waves timeout. A huge block by Hatch and Durkin tied it up a 22-apiece before Pepperdine took the lead back with a kill. The Waves scored three in a row to take the 25-22 fourth-set win and the match.
The Cougars hit the road next weekend for two games at UC San Diego. Live streaming and live stats will be available on the BYU volleyball schedule page.