BYU volleyball: Cougars upset No. 1 Hawaii

28 22:27:3
The men’s volleyball team celebrates after winning a point in a match against BSU. BYU beat first-ranked Hawaii Friday night at home.

BYU men’s volleyball ended the University of Hawaii’s 16-game winning streak in a four-set victory Friday night (27-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-17). The Hawaii Warriors were ranked first in the nation entering the game and had a 9-1 record on the road this season.

“I know how it feels to have to go on a long trip and play in someone else’s home gym where they play well,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “Same thing happened to us last season (at Hawaii).”

Brenden Sander led the team with 14 kills, and Matt Underwood followed close behind with 13. Price Jarman and setter Robbie Sutton were the leading blockers, recording nine and six respectively.

“The thing we did best was execute the game plan and play with energy,” McGown said. “We were good offensively overall.”

Set one began with both teams unable to earn consecutive points. The teams stayed neck-and-neck, until a back-row kill from Phil Fuchs and a block by Jarman and Sander put the Cougars up 15-12. BYU reached an 18-14 lead, but Hawaii closed the gap and eventually tied the game at 21-21. The Cougars hit set point at 24-23, but the Warriors didn’t give in immediately. Underwood’s ace at set point sealed the win 27-25.

BYU continued its momentum through to start set two, and three consecutive blocks by Michael Hatch and Sutton locked a 16-10 lead. The game continued with long rallies, and Sander’s consecutive kills kept BYU up 20-16. Hawaii’s Kupono Fey hit three quick kills that threatened the Cougars’ lead, shrinking it to 23-21. A kill from Underwood and a Warrior hitting error finished the set with another Cougar win 25-21.

Hawaii wasn’t ready to give up the match at set three. Kills from both teams kept the score close, but the Warriors took a lead through 15-12. Hawaii’s missed serves and hitting errors allowed BYU to tie the game 15-15. Kills by Jarman and Kiril Meretev gave BYU a 17-16 lead, but the Warriors answered with two kills and a block of their own that stole the lead back 19-17. Jarman and Meretev’s back-to-back kills tied the game again at 19. Hawaii got ahead again 23-21, and two BYU errors gave the Warriors a third-set win 25-21.

Sander and Underwood’s kills led the Cougars in an energy-filled fourth set, and BYU never let Hawaii take the lead. The Cougars eventually held a 19-12 lead after Jarman and Sander blocked Hawaii’s attackers twice in a row. BYU continued its run, and a missed serve by the Warriors gave Underwood the serve at match point 24-17. A final hitting error by the Warriors finished the match with a Cougar upset 25-17.

BYU’s conference record improves to 13-8, while the Warriors fall to 18-3. The two teams will compete again in the Smith Fieldhouse Saturday on BYU’s senior night, but McGown isn’t expecting an easy repeat win.

“Teams historically are always a little better the second night; they acclimate and figure things out,” he said.

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