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Brenden Sander’s nine kills led the BYU men’s volleyball team to a dominant 3-0 victory over UC San Diego Friday night.
“I was a little nervous coming out for the first time,” Sander said. “But it was an amazing experience.”
Matt Underwood began the night with a kill, but UC San Diego pulled ahead to lead the Cougars 3-2. A Joe Grosh block and back-to-back kills from Jake Langlois put BYU back on top with an 8-6 lead. An ace from Robbie Sutton made the score 12-8, and two more kills from Langlois widened the gap 13-9. Strong kills excited fans at the Smith Fieldhouse, while a third block from Grosh took BYU to the first set-point of the night. Kiril Meretev took the first set for the Cougars, 25-18.
“The single most important things for us tonight was to come out and play with energy,” head coach Chris McGown said. “We didn’t play (with) some important guys tonight, and we still came out and didn’t miss a beat.”
Underwood’s fifth kill of the night had BYU leading the second set 4-2. The Cougars held on to a 8-4 lead with three kills from Michael Hatch and stayed ahead with multiple kills from Phil Fuchs and Meretev. Another Underwood kill gave the Cougars a 20-15 lead. Sander then made a strong season debut, collecting six second-set kills to help BYU win the second set, 25-17.
San Diego started the third set with a comeback in mind and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. But the Cougars were determined to win in their house, working to tie the score 4-4. A kill from Fuchs put the Cougars ahead 6-4. Another block and kill from Grosh helped BYU lead the Tritons 9-7. A Sander kill kept BYU on top as San Diego trailed close behind. Kills from Fuchs and Grosh widened the gap to 20-16. Fuchs and Grosh worked to keep the ball alive so that back-to-back kills from Sander could give the Cougars a 22-17 lead. BYU would go on to win the set 25-18, winning the match 3-0.