BYU ekes past Long Beach State for three-set victory in MPSF Championship
PROVO, Utah -- Ben Patch’s 18 kills helped No. 1 BYU secure a three-set victory (28-26, 25-22, 25-22) against Long Beach State to take the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“I thought it was a really well-played match by both teams and a lot of clean high-quality volleyball," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “We’ve told our guys all season long that there are no little things and matches can turn on one or two points and that’s exactly what happened [Saturday].”
Patch hit .394 and was aided by tournament MVP Taylor Sander’s 15 kills. Devin Young had seven kills on a team-high .700 clip. Patch also led on defense with 11 digs for a double-double and a team-high four blocks. Ryan Boyce helped out with 43 assists.
BYU (25-4) had 51 kills to Long Beach State’s 44, but the 49ers (24-8) won the blocks battle 8 to 7.5.
The Cougars took the early lead in the first set, but couldn’t get more than two points ahead of the 49ers through the first half of the set. BYU kept the edge despite 10 ties until an attack error put Long Beach State on top 16-15. Three kills from 49er Taylor Crabb gave Long Beach State a 20-17 advantage, the 49ers’ largest lead of the set.
Young, who hit 1.000 (4-0-4) for the set, got the Cougars going again with a kill, launching a three-point run that tied the set at 21. BYU forced four more ties before taking the lead on a too-long swing by the 49ers. Patch gave BYU a 27-26 lead on a kill, then took the set on an ace 28-26. Patch finished the set with eight kills.
Starting the second set down 3-0, the Cougars rallied to take a 5-4 lead on a Sander kill. Long Beach State kept it close, retaking the lead 8-7 lead on an attack error.
Down 17-15, Sander threw down a kill that cut the deficit to one. On the next rally, the 49ers couldn’t manage to get the ball over the net, tying the game up 17. BYU picked up speed, snatching an 18-17 lead with the help of a Young kill. Four consecutive Cougar kills pushed BYU ahead 24-20. After allowing two more Long Beach State points, Patch finished the set off 25-22 with his 13th kill of the match.
“We were down early in the first and had a few things go our way in the end and snuck away with a first-set win,” McGown said. “Same thing in the third, down a few and made a few plays. We served some balls well and I thought that was a hallmark of our team the last two matches. I thought we were really good from the service line and put a lot of pressure on our opponents.”
The 49ers overcame a 3-1 BYU lead to go up 4-3 in the third set. They increased that lead to three at 12-9. The Cougars trailed until a Long Beach State error launched the BYU comeback effort and Patch took the lead with back-to-back aces to make the score 20-19. A Boyce block put the Cougars in position for match point, and Patch sealed the championship on a final kill.
“More than anything the boys just did what they’ve been doing all season long,” McGown said. “They have just stayed in the moment and kept battling every single point.”
Sander, Young and Josue Rivera were named to the all-tournament team. Crabb and Connor Olbright represented Long Beach State on the team. In addition, Collin Mehring from UC Irvine and Gonzalo Quiroga from UCLA were named to the all-tournament team.