- #2 BYU Def. #7 Pepperdine 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-14)
- #2 BYU 20-5 (10-1 MPSF); #7 Pepperdine 14-7 (7-4 MPSF)
- Malibu, California
- Box score
Malibu, California – Not wanting their regular season finale at #3 UCLA to be for a tie atop the final league standings, #2 BYU took to the road and made quick work of #7 Pepperdine. The victory not only clinches the regular season MPSF title for the Cougars, but will also present them with the 1-seed in the MPSF Tournament, while Pepperdine missed an opportunity to boost their at-large resume.
Immediately the Cougars demonstrated an advantage in blocking and serving, which were both constants throughout the match and potentially the biggest differences. In total, BYU logged 15 block assists compared to three block assists and two solo blocks from Pepperdine. The Cougars also had 11 aces (to nine serve errors), which smashed the Waves’ four aces (to 15 serve errors). Beyond the serve alone leading to a 13 point difference, it also was prominent in some passing and offensive struggles for Pepperdine, with BYU outhitting them .400 to .214.
The other important facet of BYU’s success in earning the regular season sweep of Pepperdine was their ability to slow the Waves’ star player David Wieczorek. The Cougars were able to hold him to just three kills (1.0 per set) on a -.133 hitting percentage. On the season he is averaging 3.90 kills per set while hitting .348 for comparison. With Wieczorek struggling, Colby Harriman (12 kills, .292, five digs) stepped up, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the down performance.
Fresh off of being named to the VolleyMob Player of the Year Watch List, Brenden Sander was strong in success for BYU, notching a team-best 11 kills on a .429 clip. There was balance behind him with a trio of others between five and eight kills too including Gabi Garcia Fernandez (eight kills, .294, four blocks, three aces, three digs) and Cyrus Fa’alogo (six kills, .545, four digs, three blocks, three aces).
Next up, BYU heads to Westwood to take on #3 UCLA, as although they have the top spot wrapped up they would love to add to their at-large resume (for just in case they lose in the MPSF Tournament). Pepperdine has similar reasoning for their need to finish strongly, as they host (RV) Stanford on Saturday.
Courtesy of BYU:
MALIBU, Calif. – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball clinched the MPSF regular-season title outright with its sweep (25-20, 25-17, 25-14) of Pepperdine Thursday night at Firestone Fieldhouse.
“This was an impressive team performance tonight,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We served tough and kept Pepperdine out of system. I’m proud of our focus from start to finish.”
Brenden Sander led the Cougars with 11 kills on a .429 clip. Leo Durkin set the team with 27 assists while Cyrus Fa’alogo provided four digs and six kills on a .545 clip. Felipe de Brito Ferreira collected six blocks and five kills while Wil Stanley contributed a career-high four aces in the win.
Pepperdine (14-7, 7-4 MPSF) got off to a 3-1 lead in the first set against BYU (20-5, 10-1 MPSF) after consecutive aces. A 5-2 Cougar run then evened things at 8-8. The Waves followed by scoring three-straight points, capped off by a block, to go ahead 13-10, forcing a timeout by BYU. With Sander at the service line, the Cougars rattled off eight-consecutive points to take an 18-13 lead as Pepperdine used both timeouts along the way. The Waves then got back within a pair at 20-18, but a pair of Sander kills sealed the set victory for BYU, 25-20.
A block and kill from Ferreira helped the Cougars take a 7-5 advantage to start off the second set. A Gabi Garcia Fernandez ace made it 11-7, and a Sander kill extended the lead to six, 15-9. BYU stayed in front at 21-13 after a Price Jarman kill before taking the set 25-17 on a Fa’alogo ace.
The third set began with the two teams staying within a point of each other until kills by Fa’alogo and Sander and an ace gave the Cougars the edge, 9-6. BYU won a lengthy rally to stay up 15-10, and back-to-back Fernandez aces made it 18-11, forcing a timeout from Pepperdine. BYU cruised through the end of the set, winning the match on three-straight aces from Wil Stanley, 25-14.
The Cougars stay on the road for their final regular-season match at UCLA Saturday, April 7, at 7 p.m. PDT. The match will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network. Links to a video stream and live stats can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.