PROVO, Utah -- Taylor Sander broke the all-time career service ace record, leading No. 1 BYU to a 3-1 (20-25, 27-25, 26-24, 25-23) victory over No. 12 Cal Baptist Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
Sander finished with four aces to bring his career total to 114 and a team-high 17 kills. Josue Rivera added nine kills of his own to improve the Cougars record to 15-3 on the year and 14-2 in the MPSF.
“After last night, our guys weren’t overconfident, they were just a little flat,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “We have been telling them all week leading up to this that Cal Baptist is good, and they were going to show up. Despite the box scores, we were able to find a way to win. Our passing played a big part of that tonight.”
Both teams traded points back and forth early on in the first set. Sander had back-to-back kills at the start to give the Cougars an early 3-1 lead but Cal Baptist answered taking a 6-4 lead after a pair of blocks. Down 8-5, the Cougars battled back to tie the score at 11 after Cal Baptist miscued and a strong kill by Sander. Later in the set, Cal Baptist extended its lead to four after a Levi Cabral service ace to go up 18-14. Tyler Heap had a kill to close the gap to 22-19 but the Lancers proved too much to handle. Cabral finished the first set for the Lancers with a kill to take set one 25-20.
In the second set, BYU took an early 4-1 lead with a block by Ben Patch. The Lancers battled back to narrow the deficit to one, down 6-5 after another Cabral kill. BYU scored four straight points fueled by a kill from Sander and a strong block from Ryan Boyce to extend its lead to 9-5. Russ Lavaja later finished an assist from Boyce to extend the Cougars lead to 14-11 midway through the second set. The Lancers continued to chip away at the Cougars lead to narrow the gap to one, 16-15, with a kill by Guilherme Koepp. Michael Hatch served his second ace of the match to extend the Cougars lead to 20-16.
Cal Baptist continued to battle back regaining the lead 24-23 after an ace by Cabral. Facing elimination twice, Sander came up with huge kills both times to keep the Cougars alive in the second set. BYU went on to take the second set 27-25 after Sander sealed it with an ace.
The Cougars and Lancers continued to trade points in the third set. BYU began to pull away midway through the set with a block by Hatch, followed by a Sander ace to extend the Cougars lead to 11-7. BYU went up 16-13 with a kill from Lavaja before the Lancers went on a 3-0 run capped by a Koepp block to tie the score at 16. Sander extended the Cougars lead to three with another ace from the service line to put BYU up 21-18. With the match tied at 24, Lavaja came up with a huge kill to give the Cougars the one point lead. BYU won the set 26-24 on the next play after a Cal Baptist hitting error.
Down 4-1 early in the fourth set, BYU battled back to tie the game at four with a Cal Baptist hitting error. The Lancers controlled the early parts of the set taking a 9-6 lead after a service ace by Koepp. Down 14-12, BYU capitalized on Cal Baptist errors and kills by Sander to go on a 5-1 run and take a 17-15 lead. Hatch pushed the Cougars lead to four with a big block, giving the Cougars the 22-18 advantage. The Lancers narrowed the BYU lead to 23-22 after a Cabral ace before a strong kill by Sander gave the Cougars a two-point margin. Lavaja put the final set and match away for the Cougars 25-23 with a kill.
BYU returns to action at Cal State Northridge on March 22 with a 7 p.m. MDT start time.
No. 1 BYU Cougars (13-3, 12-2 MPSF)
No. 12 Cal Baptist Lancers (7-9, 4-7 MPSF)
PROVO, Utah – Coming off two road victories, the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team is back at home, welcoming No. 12 Cal Baptist to the Smith Fieldhouse Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. MST.
Cal Baptist is the only Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opponent BYU has yet to face this season. This is the Lancers first season in the conference.
The Cougars are back in the top-spot in the national AVCA poll after knocking off No. 1 UC Irvine. BYU topped the Anteaters 3-2, after trailing 0-2, and swept UC San Diego last weekend on the road. The Cougars also remain atop the MPSF standings as the No. 1 team.
Freshman Ben Patch is this week’s AVCA and MPSF Player of the Week for the second week in a row after recording an MPSF-high and BYU record 35 kills. Patch is the first player to ever earn consecutive AVCA Player of the Week honors.
Junior Taylor Sander leads the Cougars, who are riding a five-match win-streak, with 3.77 kills per set followed by Patch with 3.55.
BYU is ranked first in the MPSF in hitting percentage (.326), opponent hitting percentage (.242) and blocks (2.98).
Cal Baptist is coming off a 3-0 sweep over UC San Diego that snapped a five-match losing streak. The Lancers host Pacific Wednesday before traveling to Provo.
Cal Baptist leads the conference in assists and kills, with 12.82 and 13.46 per set, respectively.
Levi Cabral holds the top spot in points in the MPSF with 4.93 per set. Cabral is also second in kills with a 4.23 average and is third in aces with .530 per set. Brett Anderson has the highest number of assists in the conference with an 11.87 average.
The Cougar captured the 2012 meeting between the two teams 3-1. BYU also owns the overall record 13-3.
Both matches will be broadcast live on BYUtv. Live stats will also be available for both matches through the schedule page. Follow @BYUvolleyball on Twitter for team and match updates.