Fa'agata-Tufuga helps No. 3 Cougars sweep past Tritons
PROVO, Utah – Behind a career-high performance from freshman outside hitter Storm Fa'agata-Tufuga, No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball swept UC San Diego (25-21, 26-24, 25-23) Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“They had some talented players with pretty good arms, and they definitely believed they could come in here and wreak some havoc,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We had a bunch of guys in new roles and positions and we just have to help them continue to believe in the process.”
Fa'agata-Tufuga recorded a career-best 10 kills, whiled adding two assists and a team-high five digs while hitting at a .471 clip. Senior Jake Langlois led the Cougars (11-2, 6-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) with a team-high and season-tying 17 kills and contributed two digs and two blocks while hitting at a .353 clip.
UC San Diego (5-8, 2-7 MPSF) opened the first set with a 3-0 run to take an early lead. Langlois scored the first point of the night for the Cougars with a kill, but the Tritons held the momentum and built a 12-9 lead. Back-to-back kills by junior Leo Durkin brought BYU within one before a Langlois kill tied the score at 12-12, forcing a UC San Diego timeout. The teams traded points before a kill from Tim Dobbert jump-started a 4-1 Cougar run leading to an 18-15 BYU advantage. The Cougars remained in control and took the set 25-21 after a kill by Dobbert.
BYU scored first in the second after Fa'agata-Tufuga collected a kill, but the Tritons quickly answered and established a 5-3 lead. The Cougars rallied to tie the score at six after several errors by UC San Diego. The momentum shifted after a 3-1 run to put the Tritons ahead 15-13 at the media timeout. Out of the break, BYU put together a 5-3 rally that evened the score at 18-all. With the teams deadlocked at 24, Langlois slammed home back-to-back kills to help the Cougars take the close set 26-24.
In the final set, BYU jumped out to a 6-4 lead after a kill and a lightning-fast ace by Fa’agata-Tufuga. A kill by Langlois started a 4-1 run and the Cougars took a 10-5 advantage leading to a Triton timeout. A 4-1 rally by UC San Diego brought the score to 18-16 and a few points later the Tritons pulled to within a single point. BYU regained control to take a 24-20 advantage, but UC San Diego fought off three-straight set points to force a Cougar timeout with the score at 24-23. Out of the break, Langlois slammed home another kill for a 25-23 third-set triumph, completing the sweep for BYU.
The two teams will play again on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. MST. Fans will be able to get into Saturday’s match for free with a Pass of All Passes and the match will be televised on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143. Links to video/audio and live stats can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.
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