Senior outside hitter Brenden Sander and No. 7 BYU men’s volleyball topped UC San Diego in four sets (18-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-16) Thursday night at RIMAC Arena.
“We had a few key guys carry us through the first part of the match,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “Brenden did a phenomenal job leading the group, and we followed his lead. We were happy with our service pressure tonight.”
Sander led the Cougars with 15 kills on a .419 clip to go with a career-high 11 digs for just his second-career double-double. Leo Durkin set the team with 46 assists, and Gabi Garcia Fernandez had 11 kills, eight digs and six blocks. Price Jarman collected seven blocks in the win.
Four-straight BYU (7-4) attack errors helped UC San Diego (7-4) take an 8-4 lead early in the first set. The Tritons led by as many as five at 11-6 following a block, but a pair of kills by Miki Jauhiainen kept the Cougars in the set, down 11-8. UC San Diego then followed with a 6-0 run to go back up 17-8. BYU came back within four after a kill by Jarman, but the Tritons cruised through to the end of the set, winning 25-18.
The Cougars took a 3-0 lead to start the second set after kills by Sander and Jauhiainen. UC San Diego evened the score, however, at 7-all following a service ace. BYU went on a 4-1 run to go up 14-12, forcing a timeout from the Tritons. UC San Diego then responded by scoring five of the next six points to take a 17-15 advantage. With Sander at the service line, the Cougars scored five-straight points to go up 20-17, and BYU continued to dominate from there, taking the set, 25-19.
The Tritons jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the third set, but the Cougars evened things up at 10 apiece. UC San Diego then capitalized off several BYU errors to take a 16-11 advantage, forcing a Cougar timeout. The Cougars then rallied with multiple kills from Fernandez to tie the set at 17-all. BYU led at 21-20 following a block by Christian Rupert and Durkin, and a kill and pair of blocks from Sander ended the set, 25-22.
The Cougars took a 7-3 lead on a Sander kill and stayed ahead 14-8 following a Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga kill and ace. Another Sander kill made it 18-12 before BYU cruised to a 25-16 victory, winning the set and match.
The Cougars stay on the road next, beginning Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play at No. 14 USC on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. PST, at the Galen Center. There will be an audio stream and live stats available 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.