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BYU men's volleyball team takes down Cal Baptist in straight sets

PROVO — The No. 7-ranked BYU men's volleyball team made quick work of visiting Cal Baptist Saturday, taking the match in straight sets (25-18, 25-20, 25-20).

Matt Underwood led the way for the Cougars with 10 kills and a team-high seven blocks. Brenden Sander matched Underwood's kill total while providing the match-winning point on a wicked cross-court kill. It was the type of kill fans were accustomed to seeing from Sander's older brother, All-American Taylor Sander, and left Cougar coach Chris McGown drawing some comparisons after the match.

"You catch glimpses every now and then. There's a few plays here and there where you're like, 'Hey, I recognize that,'" McGown said of Brenden Sander. "It's fun and he's come a long way. ... It's been fun seeing him develop."

BYU jumped on Cal Baptist early with some precision receiving and passing that led to a .500 kill percentage in the first set to CBU's .094. The Cougars scored the last four points of the set to take it 25-18.

Play was a little more even in the second set with BYU providing a .304 hitting percentage to CBU's .276. What wasn't even was the blocking, with the Cougars tallying 10 1/2 team blocks to the Lancers' single block.

"We work on it relentlessly in practice, so I attribute it to that," McGown said of his team's blocking prowess. "We emphasize good defense, we just executed it really well, and I thought the guys internalized the game plan really well. ... We were in good spots."

BYU ended the night with 14 1/2 team blocks, with Michael Hatch providing six and Joe Grosh another five to go along with Underwood's seven.

BYU's win Saturday was its second in a row over CBU. The Cougars won Friday's match in four sets (23-25, 25-18, 25-10, 25-15).

In Friday's game, McGown was able to use Josue Rivera, who had offseason rotator cuff surgery, for the first time, and he responded with nine kills. Saturday Rivera sat out, however, with a sore shoulder.

"It's been a long road to recovery, and he's been remarkably diligent in his rehab and worked like crazy," McGown said of Rivera.

Rivera's return adds to an already deep team, perhaps the deepest team McGown has fielded since becoming BYU's head coach in 2011. Having such depth has allowed him to fiddle with his lineup more than usual.

"We just simply haven't had (this) range of talent in the past," McGown said. "This group, they all compete and all get after each other, and all push each other. While we've had some superstars in the past, we haven't had the depth."

With the win BYU improves to 8-2 on the year and 7-1 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. Next up for the Cougars are back-to-back road matches against No. 2 USC.


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney