No. 2 BYU men's volleyball fell to No. 14 Concordia Irvine (25-19, 25-16, 22-25, 21-25, 16-14) on Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"It was unfortunate that we let that slip away, especially considering the circumstances," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "It's tough, but hats off to them. They stayed in it and did a good job. They turned the momentum and energy, and that's when it slipped away from us. We've got to do better there."
Brenden Sander led the team with a career-high 24 kills. He also added four blocks, four service aces and three digs. Cyrus Fa'alogo had a career-high 15 kills and eight digs. Leo Durkin led the team with 57 assists while recording three digs and three blocks. Zach Hendrickson matched his career best with 10 digs.
The Cougars (18-5, 8-1 MPSF) trailed 3-1 early in the fifth set before answering with two kills by Sander and back-to-back blocks by Durkin and Miki Jauhiainen to take a 6-3 lead. BYU fought to stay on top, but the Eagles (13-13, 4-6 MPSF) evened the game at 10-all after a BYU attack error.
Another attack error by the Cougars gave the lead back to Concordia Irvine, 13-12. A block by Christian Rupert and Gabi Garcia Fernandez tied the game at 14-all. A BYU service error and a kill gave the Eagles the set and match, 16-14.
Despite the Cougars taking an early 3-1 lead in the first set, Concordia Irvine answered with a 6-0 run to take a 7-3 advantage. After trailing, BYU went on a 6-1 run that included three attack errors by the Eagles to take back the lead, 13-12. A kill by Fernandez and a block by Sander and Rupert extended the Cougar lead to 20-17. Back-to-back kills by Fa'alogo gave BYU the set, 25-19.
In the second set, two kills by Fernandez and a service ace by Sander gave the Cougars an early 5-2 advantage. Four-straight kills by three different players extended the BYU lead to 11-4. A Fa'alogo kill sent the Cougars on a 3-0 run to keep BYU on top, 20-12.
A service error by Concordia Irvine was followed by a Sander kill and an attack error by the Eagles to put the set at set point, 24-14. After two-consecutive points by Concordia Irvine, a kill by Sander gave BYU set two, 25-16.
In set three, the Eagles took the first two points for an early lead. With the set even at 5-all, Concordia Irvine scored four straight to stay on top, 9-5. The Cougars answered with kills by Sander and Jauhiainen to cut the deficit down to two points, 10-8.
After falling behind 20-15 in the third set, BYU rallied for three-straight points to bring the score to 20-18 for the Eagles. Back-to-back kills by Rupert put the Cougars within one, 22-21. Concordia Irvine went on to take set three, 25-22.
In set four, two-consecutive service aces by Sander gave BYU an early 3-2 advantage. Neither team was able to put together a run larger than two points in the following possessions. With the Cougars on top, 12-11, the Eagles went on a 3-0 run to take a 14-12 lead and force a BYU timeout.
Errors by Concordia Irvine kept BYU within one, 18-17. The Eagles managed to stay on top, though, and a service ace gave them set four, 25-21.
The Cougars return to the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 31, as they take on No. 13 Grand Canyon on Senior Night. The match will be televised on BYUtv and is set to begin at 8 p.m. MDT.