No. 3 BYU splits games with No. 7 UC Irvine over weekend

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Hitter Ben Patch contributed 12 kills this weekend against the Anteaters. The Cougars split sets against UC Irvine. (Ryan Turner)

After losing a five set battle on Friday night (23-25, 26-28, 34-32, 25-21, 12-15), the BYU men’s volleyball team came back strong to sweep the Anteaters on Saturday night (25-21, 25-18, 28-26) at home.

“We were much more confident and aggressive from the service line,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I was really proud of the guys for doing that. We had good energy as well, and stayed much more composed then last night.”

Friday’s five set loss was a heartbreaker. After being down 2-0 in sets, BYU came back to win the third set 34-32. Every point was a battle and the Smith Fieldhouse roared with each victory. Jake Langlois led with 17 kills (.353)  and Brenden Sander had 15 (.346). Eric Sikes and Langlois each contributed seven digs and Leo Durkin racked up 47 assists for the Cougars in their fight against the Anteaters.

Despite winning the forth set, BYU fell behind in the fifth set 7-3. Hope remained when a kill from Ben Patch pulled the Cougars within two at 10-8, but three service errors in a row dug BYU into a hole it couldn’t escape. UC Irvine took the fifth set 15-12.

On Saturday night the Cougars took control from the top of the first set.  Back to back aces from Langlois helped BYU take an early 9-5 lead, which moved to 13-7 after a big block from Joe Grosh and Langlois. The Cougars won the first set 25-21, Patch leading with five kills.

BYU let the momentum carry over into the second set. After relentless defense and a kill from Langlois, the Cougars pushed to 8-5. Back to back aces by Price Jarman gave BYU a 17-13 advantage. The Cougars took the second set 25-18, Patch with eight kills, Langlois with 7 and Jarman hitting a .600 hitting clip.

The third set was neck and neck until a Langlois kill broke up the 23-23 tie and gave BYU their first match point. After another back and forth battle the Cougars won the third set 28-26.

Langlois and Patch both lead with 12 kills and impressive hitting clips at .500 and .409. Jarman ended with a high .625 hitting clip. Durkin lead with five digs and 32 assists to help the Cougars Saturday night.

The Cougars stay at home this week to take on UCLA on Feb. 3-4 in the Smith Fieldhouse.

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