The No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team beat No. 4 Pepperdine in three sets. With the win against No. 7 USC last night, this weekend brings the Cougars’ winning streak to six straight games.
“Both of these wins mean a lot,” said outside hitter Matt Underwood. “They’re both awesome volleyball teams, so, not only to win, but to win 3-0 is huge for us to build momentum and build confidence and get us rolling into the season.”
Taylor Sander tied his season high with 18 kills and six blocks. Underwood killed seven points for BYU, and setter Tyler Heap put up 38 sets.
“We’re happy with the progress that we’ve made, but we’re certainly not satisfied,” said BYU’s head coach, Chris McGown. “Maybe that’s who we are, perpetually dissatisfied. We’re happy for the win but excited to get back to work and get better.”
BYU led the way the entire first set to a 25-22 win. The second set had Pepperdine hanging neck in neck until the end of the match, tied 22-22. BYU scored the next three points to win the set. In the final set BYU trailed until Sander went up for what seemed to be a huge hit and softly tapped the ball over the net to bring the score to a tie, 11-11. BYU led the way the rest of the set to win 25-22.
“It’s a nice night,” McGown said. “I told the guys after the match, ‘I hope you understand two things: One, you’re playing really good volleyball right now, but I feel like we still have so much more upside to get to.’ So the message for us is, let’s get back to work on Monday and be about the business of getting better every day and see how this goes.”
Close games like these bring a pressure that is familiar to BYU’s volleyball players.
“We try to put the guys in big-pressure situations in practice where there’s consequences for mistakes and consequences for poor plays,” McGown said. “We try to get them ready for these moments.”
Sander also found this weekend of wins important for the team.
“This is a really big win for us,” Sander said. “This whole weekend is really good for us. I think we got better, and winning two big games at home like this will be big for us down the season.”
BYU will travel to California next weekend to play Long Beach State on Friday and Cal State Northridge on Saturday.