UC San Diego’s lacking defense and a confident energy from the Cougars only helped BYU’s Taylor Sander to move up to No. 2 in career kills at BYU in the rally-scoring era, with 1,521 kills — 36 away from surpassing No. 1 Rob Stowell.
It was a quick win tonight for the Cougars in the Smith Fieldhouse, beating the Tritons in three sets, 25-15, 25-21 and 25-15.
“We took care of business,” Sander said. “We did a nice job off the bench, and it was fun to have different guys out there.”
Sander, who totaled 10 kills in tonight’s match, was excited about his next record-breaking stat that is within reach of the next match.
“It’s a lot of hard work and having good setters and trusting myself and making sure I’m working to get better every day,” he said.
To start the match, BYU’s Phil Fuchs had four kills, and Michael Hatch followed with three kills. San Diego’s five serving errors and two blocks, combined with just a .292 hitting percentage, led the way for BYU to take set one of the night.
The second set was much tighter; the side-outs were back and forth for the first eight points. After a serving error by the Tritons and a kill on the ten foot line by Sanders, BYU began to pull ahead. Matt Underwood had two consecutive kills down the line early in the set, and Sander brought five more kills from the outside.
San Diego came back with some hard hits, including six from its opposite Mike Brunsting. That brought the set to 21 all. For a minute the Tritons had a chance to take the set from the Cougars, but they could not handle BYU’s offense, ending the game 25-21.
The third set began much like the second, with both teams neck and neck on the scoreboard. The six-all tie broke when BYU put in alternate players to mix up the court. Joseph Grosh, Robbie Sutton and Kiril Meretev were a triple threat blocking at the net, leading to what the announcer dubbed a “block party.” Though none of the three are starting players, they proved their ability to perform.
BYU’s head coach Chris McGown, who coached his 80th match as head coach with BYU, said the easy win and the bench players were helpful in developing depth all around the court.
“It’s an opportunity to create some depth, more than anything,” McGown said. “For them to get a sense of a match environment and get some reps with different guys helps us a lot.”
The Cougars will stay in Provo to face Cal Baptist next Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse at 7:00 p.m.