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Cougars Win Second Match of Active Ankle Classic
LONG BEACH -- After losing the first set, BYU battled back to defeat St. Francis (PA) in four (33-35, 30-27, 30-14, 30-23) sets at Walter Pyramid on Saturday. The victory improved the Cougars record to 12-7 this season.
BYU was led by the hitting of seniors Andrew Stewart and Kent Tuttle, who had 15 and 12 kills, respectively, followed by Russell Lavaja and Mat Taylor with 11 kills each. Cougar setter Yamil Perez assisted on 51 points during the match.
St. Francis came out strong in the first set, beginning the match with a 6-1 advantage over BYU. Strong hitting by Taylor, Tuttle and Lavaja helped BYU overcome the deficit. The Cougars were able to force multiple set points but the Red Flash were able to outlast BYU winning the first set, 35-33.
It appeared the second set would be a repeat of the first as the Cougars found themselves down 3-0 but three consecutive kills by Andrew Stewart gave BYU a 4-3 lead. Though the two teams exchanged points throughout much of the set the Cougars were able to pull away thanks to kills by Taylor and Stewart as well as a block by Stewart and Lavaja.
In the third set it was BYU who got off to an early start with a 4-1 advantage due in large part to strong hitting by Lavaja and Stewart once again. The Red Flash were unable to knot the score with the Cougars ahead 7-6. From there BYU took over, defeating St. Francis 30-14.
Set four included eleven ties and included significant runs by each team. The set began with the two teams trading points until, with the score tied at 11-11, the Red Flash went on a 7-1 run to take a 18-12 lead. BYU was able to tie the score at 20-20 and ultimately went on a 9-1 run to beat St. Francis, 30-23.
The Cougars will return to Provo and will face USC March 19 and 20 in the Smith Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. MT both nights.
Penn State and St. Francis Await BYU in Long Beach
The No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball team (10-7, 8-6 MPSF) hits the road again as it participates in the Long Beach State Active Ankle Tournament on Friday and Saturday nights. The tournament consists of four teams, including the Cougars, No. 6 LBSU, No. 9 Penn State and St. Francis (PA).
BYU will take on the Nittany Lions (13-2, 6-0 EIVA) on Friday at 5 p.m. PT, while facing the Red Flash (8-7, 1-3 EIVA) Saturday also at 5 p.m. PT. All matches will be played at the Walter Pyramid.
Penn State is currently riding a nine-match win streak, with its most recent victory coming against George Mason on March 6. The Nittany Lions are led by senior opposite Will Price who averages 4.37 kills per set. Senior middle blocker Max Lipsitz leads his team with 87 blocks on the season.
St. Francis is coming off a five-set loss at Princeton on Feb. 27 and will take on LBSU at the tournament on Friday before facing BYU. Jordan Varee is averaging 4.79 kills per set for the Red Flash this season, while Pete Freyer has a team-high 64 blocks.
BYU and Penn State have played 13 previous matches, with the Cougars gaining the 7-6 advantage in the series after recording a 3-1 upset win at the Active Ankle Tournament in 2009. BYU has won seven of the last nine matches after dropping the first four the two teams played. Eight of the 13 matchups between the Cougars and the Nittany Lions have been on neutral floors, with BYU holding a 6-2 advantage at those sites.
Saturday will mark the first meeting between BYU and St. Francis.
BYU is coming off a weekend split, hosting No. 1 Pepperdine. The Cougars handed the top-ranked Waves a 3-1 loss on Friday, will Robb Stowell leading the charge with 22 kills. Andrew Stewart earned his seventh double-double of the season with 15 kills and 12 digs. Russell Lavaja recorded a career-high .714 hitting percentage with 11 kills and only one error.
Saturday was Pepperdine’s turn to be victorious as it delivered a sweep over BYU. Despite strong play from Kent Tuttle and Stewart, the Cougars could never quite catch up to the Waves, falling in three sets.