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BYU men's volleyball: Cougars get swept at home by Santa Barbara

PROVO — Rare is the occasion when the No. 6-ranked BYU men's volleyball team gets swept at home, but it happened on Friday night at the hands of No. 14 Santa Barbara (25-23, 25-20, 27-25.) Too many unforced errors and lack of resolve had Cougar coach Shawn Olmstead fuming after the match, which marked the third loss in a row for the Cougars on the season. It also marked only the second time BYU has been swept at home since 2012.

“Hat’s off to Santa Barbara. They came out swinging,” Olmstead said. “They came prepared and enjoying the atmosphere, and they were the better team — hands down.”

The Gauchos were led by Keenan Sanders, who scored a team-high 11 kills and a .312 team hitting percentage, and were putting it to the Cougars from the start, forcing the home team to play from behind for the majority of the evening.

As for his own relatively young team, Olmstead didn't mince words regarding his disappointment in his players' performance, which came after dropping two straight to UC Irvine on the road last weekend.

“It’s similar to Irvine, so that’s what’s frustrating right now,” Olmstead said. “There’s things we talk about, we recognize them, but it was very similar to last weekend. So that’s frustrating.”

The Gauchos got off to a 10-6 lead early in the first set, before BYU closed to cut the lead to 22-21 late. But it proved too little too late, as UCSB took the first set by a narrow 25-23 margin.

Somewhat surprisingly, things got worse for the Cougars in the second set, with the Gauchos leading for the majority of the set after incurring an early 4-2 deficit. The Cougars hit just .133 and couldn't get much of anything going before eventually falling 25-20.

The third and final set had the Cougars show a lot more emotion, amped up by the always raucous home crowd and rallied to take a 23-21 lead late. But that lead was squandered quickly to the tune of three straight points by the Gauchos, putting the Cougars in yet another catchup situation, which they again couldn't overcome.

“Unfortunately we didn’t make them really have to try to beat us, if that makes sense,” Olmstead said. “So we go and (make some good plays) and then just make a bone-head play … those kill you. It just makes you flat.”

In order to infuse some momentum, Olmstead emptied his bench, playing a variety of lineups, which ultimately didn't pay dividends.

“We had to try everything,” Olmstead said. “(We made substitutions at) every position tonight, I think, except our middles. We tried. You can’t say we didn’t try and bring some spark and some change — some little fire. … That’s disappointing as well.”

The good news is the Cougars (5-4) will get a chance at redemption Saturday night, when matching up again with the same Santa Barbara team (4-3) on their home court. As could well be imagined, Olmstead is anxious to see how his team responds, stating, “Guys have to dig deep and see what they’re made of."


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney