A career night from sophomore outside hitter Brenden Sander helped propel No. 3 BYU men's volleyball to a sweep (25-18, 26-24, 25-21) of UC San Diego on Friday night at RIMAC Arena.
"We need to come prepared for a tough match tomorrow," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We can improve and show a better mindset than we did tonight throughout the entire match tomorrow."
Sander led the Cougars with a career-high-tying 16 kills while hitting at a .333 clip and adding seven digs. Leo Durkin set the offense with 37 assists, while Erik Sikes anchored the back row with nine digs. Michael Hatch added four blocks in the defensive effort, and Ben Patch chipped in double-digit kills with 14 on 21 attempts without an error for a .667 hitting percentage.
BYU (18-3, 14-3 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) took a 4-1 lead over UC San Diego (5-18, 0-17 MPSF) early on in the first set with Sander at the service line. The Tritons quickly rallied back within one at 7-6 after a Cougar attack error. BYU turned things around from there, going on a 5-1 run with help from kills by Patch and Sander to go back up at 12-7. Another Sander kill extended the Cougars' advantage to six at 18-12, which was followed by a Sander ace to increase the advantage at 22-15. A Triton service error ended the set for BYU, 25-18.
UC San Diego took advantage of a pair of Cougar miscues to help take its first lead of the night in the second set at 6-3. BYU took its first timeout after a Triton service ace extended UC San Diego's lead to four, 10-6. The Tritons maintained their advantage until a Jake Langlois ace knotted the score at 15-all, capping off a 4-0 Cougar run. The score was tied the next seven points before back-to-back BYU points gave the Cougars set point at 24-22. UC San Diego then fought off two set points to tie the score back at 24-apiece, but consecutive Sander kills ended the close set in BYU's favor, 26-24.
A Hatch kill, Durkin ace and block from Sander and Hatch helped the Cougars to a 3-0 edge in the third set. BYU was firing on all cylinders offensively as it extended its lead to nine at 12-3. The Tritons rallied back within six at 17-11, but another Langlois kill kept the Cougars ahead 19-11. UC San Diego followed with a 5-0 run to cut the lead to three, down 19-16. The score remained close from there until a pair of Sander kills gave BYU set point, and a Triton attack error ended the set and match 25-21.
The Cougars and Tritons return to the court for a rematch Saturday, March 26, at 7 p.m. PDT. Links to a video feed and live stats 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.