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BYU volleyball: Cougars gets rare sweep of Waves

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PROVO — Second-ranked BYU whitewashed perennial nemesis Pepperdine in sweeping fashion Saturday, as the Cougars downed the No. 5 Waves 3-0 to take the two-match regular-season series.

BYU's victory — 30-28, 30-23, 30-26 — came 24 hours after the Cougars barely missed a similar three-and-out match, needing four games against the same Waves on the same Smith Fieldhouse court.

"It's a great weekend when you can beat Pepperdine (twice) — especially 3-0 one night," said BYU coach Shawn Patchell.

For the Cougars, it's not only great, it's historic — only the third time BYU has beaten Pepperdine in the minimum three sets, while the Waves have done it to BYU 16 times, including eight times in the previous half-dozen seasons.

And the 2-0 regular-season Pepperdine sweep? It's only the second time since the Cougars 1999 inaugural NCAA championship season — and that came in 2004, BYU's third and most recent NCAA title year. Meanwhile, Pepperdine had logged three BYU series sweeps in the past half-dozen years alone.

The Cougars remain atop the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings, improving to 16-1 overall and 11-1 in the MPSF, while Pepperdine drops to identical 8-7 marks.

And BYU may return atop the national polls, given that No. 1 and previously unbeaten Penn State was upset Friday night by George Mason. As they did Friday night, the Cougars prevailed with a balanced attack — albeit not as stellar in hitting percentages. Ivan Perez struggled to post a team-best 13 kills, only hitting .148, but he added two of BYU's four aces, a solo block and five block assists.

"It wasn't my best hitting night, so if I can't hit, I'll do something else," said Perez, mindful that he and his senior class were 1-5 against Pepperdine before this weekend.

Other BYU seniors who stepped up included Jonathan Charette (11 kills, .381) and Russell Holmes (nine kills, .583, five blocks) and Trent Sorensen (eight blocks, .438, 3 blocks). Andrew Stewart added nine kills and a .375 percentage, as BYU hit .348 as a team.

For the second night, All-American hitter Paul Carroll was a one-man Waves show, totaling 29 of Pepperdine's 41 kills while hitting .468.

"We recruited him hard — we tried to get him here," said Patchell of Carroll.

The Cougars came close to losing the opening set, trailing 27-23

Pepperdine had posted eight blocks — before finishing the game off with a 7-1 run.

"Statistically, that's a mystery how we pulled that one out," said Patchell. "The guys played with heart, they hung in there."

After cruising to the second-set victory, BYU needed another late rally in the third game, snapping a 24-all tie with five straight points — four on blocks involving Holmes, Perez and setter Reed Chilton — before Holmes punctuated match point with by a kill.

E-mail: taylor@desnews.com