No. 8 BYU Cougars Claw Out Win Over Pacific Tigers

2/27/2009

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STOCKTON, Calif. - After dropping the night's first set, BYU's eighth-ranked men's volleyball team secured a 3-1 victory over the University of the Pacific Friday night at the Alex G. Spanos Center (24-30, 30-21, 30-25, 30-20). The win marks only the second match this season the Cougars have pulled out a victory after losing the first game. BYU improves to 8-6 on the season and 6-3 in MPSF play, having won its last three matches.

Junior outside hitter Andrew Stewart knocked down a match-leading 21 kills with a .432 hitting percentage. Other Cougars recording double-figure kills included opposite Mat Taylor with 15 and outside hitter Alex Da Pron with 12. Da Pron's 12 kills set a new career high, as did his 11 digs, marking his first career double-double. Freshman Russell Lavaja also set a new career-high with eight blocks to go along with nine kills.

The Cougars found themselves trailing in the first set after an early 2-0 advantage, never to regain the lead. Futi Tavana and Kevin Sagers helped bring the Cougars to within three points at 26-23 with a block, but Pacific pulled away with three consecutive scores, capitalizing on two BYU attack errors. The Cougars were held to a .206 hitting percentage despite five kills by Stewart.

After sitting out the first set, Taylor started the second, helping turn the Cougars' play around. His back-to-back kills sparked a 9-1 BYU run, giving his team a 16-7 advantage. A service ace by Reed Chilton gave BYU a 10-point lead. The Tigers struggled offensively in the second set, recording only eight kills compared to the Cougars' 17 for a -0.05 attack percentage. BYU tied the match at one-set-all after a kill by Tavana and a team block.

BYU held a steady lead in the third set before the Tigers jumped ahead 13-12. With the score close, Tavana and Da Pron knocked down consecutive blocks to give BYU a lead it would never relinquish. Pacific continued to compete however, but this time it was Lavaja who took control of the team and helped shift the momentum back to the Cougars' favor. The freshman recorded five kills and four blocks in the third game, including two big kills to give BYU the 30-25 win.

Strong blocking gave BYU an early three-point lead to start the final set. Back-to-back service aces by Stewart sent the Cougars on a 4-0 run, putting them up 9-3 heading into the first timeout. Stewart recorded a career-high three service aces on the night. Coming back into play, Kent Tuttle's two kills and service ace gave the Cougars a 26-15 advantage. Stewart capped the night with one final kill on match-point, clinching the overall win for BYU.

The Cougars and Tigers meet again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. PT.

Article courtesy of BYU athletics.

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