Lauren Bosco | Posted: 20 Apr 2023 | Updated: 5 Jul 2023

BYU falls to Stanford in MPSF Semifinals in five-set battle

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BYU men's volleyball players in a huddle in Maples Pavilion

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The No. 2 seeded BYU men’s volleyball team fell in five sets to No. 3 Stanford, dropping the game 3-2 (20,25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22, 12-15) on Thursday evening in the MPSF semifinals at Maples Pavilion.

All-American Will Rottman led USC in the win with a match-high 26 kills on a .490 clip. Sophomore Luke Benson recorded the most kills for BYU with 13 on a .310 clip, including a career-high in digs with 15. The Cardinal held the Cougars to a .149 hitting percentage, BYU's lowest clip of the year.

Set One

After a couple back-and-forth points in the beginning of set one, the Cardinal extended the lead to 12-4 after going on a 7-0 run. The Cougars later gained an edge, going on a 5-0 run courtesy of a Miks Ramanis kill, Kupono Browne kill, Heath Hughes ace and back-to-back blocks by Teon Taylor for a 14-11 score.

The Cougars were unable to create any more momentum late in the first set, and the Cardinal would win 25-20. Stanford had a .294 clip compared to BYU’s 0.97 hitting percentage.

Set Two

Ramanis got an ace for an early 3-2 lead in the second set. The set would be tied four more times until an ace by Gavin Julien gave BYU a one-point lead at 10-9. Next, BYU went on a 3-0 run after a Taylor block for a 13-10 lead. 

A kill by Luke Benson gave the Cougars a 17-12 lead, their largest lead of the night so far. Browne got BYU’s fourth ace of the night at 19-14, forcing a Stanford timeout. The Cougars permeated their way to a set two victory after a high-swing by Ramanis for a 25-23 win, splitting the game at 1-1.

Browne and Ramanis each added four kills while Teon Taylor and Julien had two blocks apiece. Both teams hit under .200 in the second set, with Stanford having a .161 clip and BYU hitting a .074 clip. 

Set Three

The Cougars had an explosive start in the third set by going on a 5-0 run, causing a Stanford timeout. Four of those points were attack errors by the Cardinal. Browne got his second ace of the night to make a 10-3 lead for BYU. 

Stanford crept its way towards a lead at 20-19 after back-to-back kills by Luke Turner. The Cardinal also took a lead at 22-21, but a kill by Taylor evened the score. The Cardinal came back for a 25-22 lead after a BYU attack error, taking the match score to 2-1 for Stanford.

Set Four

BYU got to a quick 6-3 lead after a Trent Moser kill then Stanford burned its first timeout of set four. The Cougars would pick up right where they left off with a Julien kill and Benson ace for an 8-4 score. 

Heath Hughes had an overpass kill to take the score to 16-12, BYU up by four. Stanford evened the set at 17, 18 and 19, but BYU had to play catch up to even the score at 21 and 22. The Cougars would win 25-22 courtesy of a Julien kill, taking the game to a fifth set.

Set Five

Stanford got the first five points of set five through multiple long rallies. The Cougars struggled to combat Stanford's fiery run, but Moser got an ace for an 8-4 score, BYU down four. 

BYU lessened the gap to two after a Stanford hitting error, taking the score to 12-10. But Stanford would win the game off a kill by middle blocker Nathaniel Gates, winning set five 15-12.

Stanford will play top-seeded UCLA in the MPSF Finals for a shot at an automatic-bid to the NCAA Tournament. BYU awaits the NCAA Tournament selection, where just two schools will be chosen for an at-large bid.

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