MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Playing in its first match in nearly two weeks, the No. 5 BYU men's volleyball team secured a 3-1 victory (26-30, 32-30, 30-28, 30-27) over No. 14 UC San Diego on Friday night at La Jolla, Calif.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 8-4 on the season and 6-3 against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opponents.
BYU was led by sophomore opposite Robb Stowell and his match-leading 22 kills. He also added a career-high 20 digs. Other Cougars recording double-digit kills were Andrew Stewart with 18, Futi Tavana with 12 and Russell Lavaja and Kevin Sagers with 11 apiece. Friday marks the first match this season the Cougars have had five players with 10 or more kills.
Setter Reed Chilton's 72 assists mark a new career high and are the most by a Cougar this season.
The Tritons led the entire first set on way to a 30-26 win. BYU managed to close in at 27-26 after a kill from Stowell and a UCSD attack error, but was unable to pull ahead.
Set two started with kills from Lavaja, Tavana and Joe Kauliakamoa as the Cougars took an 8-5 lead. The Tritons knotted the score at 15-15, and again eight more times before the end of the set. A kill by Stowell put BYU up 31-30, but it was a solo block from Chilton that won the set and tied the match.
The third set was even more competitive than the first two, as each team matched point-for-point, seeing 23 ties. Neither team gained more than a one-point advantage until a kill from Stewart and a timely UCSD attack error put the Cougars up 12-10. The Tritons took a two-point lead of their own at 18-16, but Stewart's back-to-back kills tied things up 18-18.
The set ended like it started with back-and-forth scoring. Stowell recorded his 20th kill of the night to bring up set point. He and Lavaja combined for a block to seal the win.
Momentum continued in the Cougars' favor as they took an early 5-1 lead to start the fourth set. Sagers and Stowell each recorded a pair of kills to put BYU ahead 18-12. The Tritons battled back from a seven-point deficit to cut the Cougars' lead to one point several times late in the set. Attack errors plagued both teams down the stretch, but it was two successful attempts by Tavana that clinched the 30-27 victory and overall win for BYU.
The Cougars and Tritons meet again tonight at 8 p.m. MT for the second of this two-match series.
MEN'S TENNIS: A talented Arizona squad was too much for BYU on Friday as the No. 24 Wildcats handed the Cougars their first loss of the season in a 5-2 match at Tucson, Ariz.
With the loss, BYU falls to 8-1 on the year, while Arizona improved to 5-1.
"We need to work the points a little more," BYU coach Brad Pearce said. "There are things we need to improve on and we'll keep working on those and become a better team."
The Wildcats started off strong, easily winning the pairs matches on courts one and two. Georgy Batrakov and Daniel Hwang were able to earn an 8-4 victory at the No. 3 position, but it was too late for the Cougars as Arizona took the doubles point.
"We went into singles with our backs against the wall," Pearce said. "Our guys battled hard and competed well. Arizona is a solid team and the first match outdoors is always a challenge."
Arizona kept the momentum going into singles and won the first three matches to secure the win. The Cougars put up a fight with both Cassidy Mears and Michael Eraso forcing their respective matches into three sets.
BYU was able to strike back with Spencer Smith defeating Geoff Embry on court five. Thomas Shubert also recorded a win at the No. 1 spot with a straight-set victory over Jay Goldman. Arizona had the last word with Andres Arango overcoming Evan Urbina to finish the match at 5-2.
"The players are holding their heads up high," Pearce said. "They left it all on the court and came up just short against a good team."
Today the Cougars will have a chance to bounce back when they face South Alabama in Tucson.
MEN'S GOLF: The first tournament of the spring season was a success for Cougars (286-277-285—848, -16), who tied for third place in the field of 15 at the John Burns Invitational in Wahiawa, Hawaii. BYU senior Robbie Fillmore also tied for third place individually.
"I really appreciated the way the guys hung in there," said BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank. "We were more relaxed this week and stayed in the present instead of worrying so much about results. I think that was a big part of the reason we were more successful. I'm pleased with their effort."
Two Cougars placed in the top 20 of the event with two others tied for 21st place. Fillmore posted the best BYU round of the tournament on Friday with a 67 in round three, bringing his tournament score to 9-under-par (207). The mark tied him with UNLV's Brett Kanda for third place overall, matching his highest finish of the fall.
"It was great to be playing again after so long," said Fillmore. "I felt really good about how I played, and I hit the ball extremely well. I missed some putts, but that's just part of golf. I'm really excited for the team moving forward this spring."
Freshman Zac Blair, who got the Cougars started on Wednesday with an opening-round 69, posted an even-par 72 on Friday to end the event at 3-under (213). His 17th-place finish is the best of his collegiate career.
Senior Brady Johnson and junior Esteban Calisto posted identical scores both for the third round and the tournament at 73 and 215, respectively. Both golfers tied for 21st overall at 1-under-par. Freshman Alton Anderson tied for 36th at plus-2 overall (218) with a third- round 73.
UNLV won the tournament over Texas A&M on the first playoff hole. The Cougars tied for third with California.
BYU will next be in action March 1-2 at the USC Intercollegiate.
BASEBALL: UC Riverside swept a season-opening doubleheader Friday over BYU, 12-11 and 6-4, at Riverside, Calif.
The Highlanders, 2-0, had a shutout going through five innings in the nightcap over BYU, now 0-2. UCR scored six unanswered runs for a come-from-behind victory in game one.
In game two, the Cougars didn't get a base-runner until the fourth inning when Andrew Law reached on an error, but was retired on an inning-ending double play.
In the fifth inning, Bryce Ayoso singled for the Cougars' first hit of the game, but was stranded at second base after advancing on a passed ball.
In the sixth of the nightcap, Austin Hall led off by advancing to second on an overthrow error. He moved to third on Stephen Wells' single, a game short of extending his 15-game hitting streak prior to his church mission. Hall scored on Sean McNaughton's sacrifice fly. Then Law singled to move Wells to third. Law stole second before he and Wells scored from Jonathan Cluff's two-out single to leftfield.
Hall scored BYU's fourth run in the ninth off a McNaughton triple.
In game one, McNaughton drew a lead-off walk as the first batter of the season, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out before scoring on a Cluff single to centerfield.
Law beat out a one-out single to the pitcher in the third and scored off Cluff's two-out double. Ayoso then walked before Ryan Bernal hit a three-run homer to right field.
BYU loaded the bases in the fifth, starting when Ayoso drew a one-out base on balls. The Highlanders were forced to make a pitching change with two on, then Brandon Relf walked to load the bases. Chase Frampton singled to centerfield to score Ayoso, but Bernal was thrown out at home.
UCR tied the score in the two-run fifth as Justin Shutt was relieved on the mound by freshman lefty Mark Anderson.
The Cougars rallied in the sixth when McNaughton led off with a single and was driven in by Law's double to rightfield. Alex Wolfe drove in Law, as he also doubled to right. With the bases loaded, UCR made another pitching change and Bernal walked off him to score Wolfe.
That sixth-inning rally continued when Cluff and Ayoso scored off wild pitches.
The two teams meet again today at 1 p.m. MT.