The No. 2 BYU Men’s Volleyball six game winning streak came to a halt in a match against No. 3 Long Beach State. Playing on Long Beach’s home court, BYU lost 3-1 (25-21, 25-16, 25-27, 26-24).
“We got off to a really slow start, and I’m not sure what that was a function of,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “We just played really poorly through two sets and then found some rhythm. I thought that Long Beach served pretty well, and then the thing they did really well was pass. Ultimately we couldn’t overcome the fact that we weren’t passing great and they were passing well.”
Senior Taylor Sander had his second double-double of the season with 24 kills and 11 digs. Sander has 1,508 kills in his BYU career and is now No. 2 at BYU for career kills in the rally-scoring era, only 50 behind the leader Rob Stowell.
In the first set, BYU found itself trailing almost the entire time. Starting out 5-2, the Cougars fought back to make it 5-4, but they couldn’t quite pull ahead. Long Beach ran away with it to get a 12-7 lead. The 49ers continued to fall behind until BYU got a 4-1 run to put the game at 22-18, but it wasn’t long before Long Beach took the set 25-21.
The second set was the same story. BYU trailed and never could gain footing and handed over a whopping win to Long Beach 25-16 to take a commanding 2-0 lead into halftime.
The third set opened in a similar manner to the others. BYU started down 4-1, but BYU’s outside hitter Phil Fuchs initiated a four point run bringing BYU to a 5-4 lead. BYU lost the lead and trailed again until the Cougars tied it again at 14.
Toward the end of the third set both teams played neck and neck. Tied at 21 and then again at 23, 24 and 25, but finally BYU broke free with a kill by Sander, gaining a 26-25 lead and took the next point winning the match 27-25.
The fourth set both teams brought their all. The score tied four times and then BYU finally took the lead 8-7. Four more ties followed until BYU pulled ahead once again with a 13-11 lead. After a few kills by Sander, BYU pulled even further ahead to a 19-13 lead. Long Beach fought back hard bringing the score to a tie at 23 and again at 24, but the 49ers stole the next two points to walk away with a 26-24 win.
“It would have been nice to have seen what we could have done in a fifth set,” McGown said. “It was a little uncharacteristic of us, the way we finished. I’m used to seeing us finish really well. I thought for sure we were coming back and would go into a fifth. I liked our chances if we did.”
BYU takes on Cal State Northridge Saturday at 7 p.m. PST in southern California.