PROVO, Utah -- Third-ranked BYU beat California Baptist in straight sets (25-20, 26-24, 25-22) on a historic night for Taylor Sander, who became the BYU career kills leader during the rally-scoring era.
"[Taylor] has never said a word to me about it, I've never said a word to him about it," head coach Chris McGown said. "These things are just a product of playing well. We don't think about it too much, but it's certainly a nice achievement for him."
Sander surpassed Rob Stowell for the No. 1 spot in the rally-scoring era and No. 2 all-time at BYU and currently has 1,563 career kills. His 13 kills on the night led the Cougars, and he also contributed three blocks. Devin Young's 10 kills were a season-high, and Michael Hatch had five blocks and seven kills, tying a career-high. Tyler Heap recorded 37 assists. With the sweep, the Cougars (16-4, 16-2 MPSF) have not dropped a set at home since January and have won 21 consecutive matches in the Fieldhouse. Cal Baptist (4-18, 2-16 MPSF) was led by Johannes Brink's 18 kills.
"We were a little sluggish through some of those sets, but I like the way we battled back and regained some composure," McGown said. "Our guys did a really nice job of settling down and playing the way we know how to play."
BYU took the first set 25-20. Tied 6-6, the Cougars scored seven of the next eight points to gain their first real advantage at 13-7. The Lancers stayed within striking distance, but did not get closer than four points. Holding a 22-18 lead, Sander had a block and an ace to give the Cougars their first set point opportunity. After two points from the Lancers, Josue Rivera’s kill finished the set for the Cougars. Sander led the way with four kills and a block. Rivera contributed three kills.
The two teams traded points for much of the second set, with Brett Anderson’s three consecutive blocks keying a 4-0 Cal Baptist run to create the first significant lead for either team at 17-14. Trailing 21-17, kills from the Cougars’ Hatch and Sander sparked a 4-0 run and tied the game. After exchanging points, Matt Underwood’s kill gave BYU a set point chance, but the Lancers answered to tie the game at 24. Another kill from Underwood and an error from Cal Baptist gave the Cougars the set 26-24.
The Cougars started quickly in the final set, scoring the first four points. The Lancers battled to within one on multiple occasions, but Phil Fuchs’ back-to-back kills extended the BYU lead to 14-10. Holding a 23-20 lead, Sander’s kill put the Cougars in match-point position. After a couple BYU errors gave Cal Baptist some life, the Lancers’ service error clinched the set and match for the Cougars.