No. 3 seed Stanford was not going to be denied the opportunity at an MPSF tournament championship, slipping past second-seed BYU in five sets Thursday evening on its home floor to advance to the league’s postseason finale.  

The schools traded sets, the Cougars falling by scores of 20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22, and 12-15. 

The match marked the third time in less than a week that BYU and Stanford had played, with the previous two contests taking place in Provo last weekend and ending in two Cougar victories. Those matches wrapped up the regular season for the two teams, BYU snatching a second-place MPSF finish from the Cardinal with the pair of wins. 

However, Stanford got the last laugh Thursday night, putting an end to BYU’s hopes of a tournament title and ending the Cougars nine-match unbeaten streak. It was only fitting, BYU being the lone school in the last month to have beat the Cardinal.  

Cougars overcome slow start against Concordia, advance to MPSF semifinal

The match saw multiple long runs by both squads, swinging the momentum of the contest back and forth throughout the evening. The Cardinal used a 7-0 run in the first game to propel them to an early one-set advantage.

The second set saw a 5-0 BYU run put the Cougars out front midway through and ultimately knot things up heading into the break. 

BYU started the next game hot, scoring the initial six points. But the school could not hold on, losing the lead on a 4-0 Stanford run that pushed the Cardinal out front 20-19 before putting the Cougars away. 

The fourth set tightened up near the end, but BYU finished off its host with four consecutive points to close things out and force the deciding game. 

The seesaw trend continued with Stanford scoring the first five points of the fifth set. The Cougars battled back, but were unable to overcome their slow start, coming up just short of the victory.

BYU had no answer for Cardinal All-American outside hitter Will Rottman who completed the night with 26 kills, three service aces and six blocks. 

Sophomore outside hitter Luke Benson had a nice evening, leading the Cougars in kills and digs with 13 and 15 respectively. 

For BYU, it will be the first time in over a decade the school has gone consecutive tournaments without competing in the conference’s biggest match. The Cougars fall to 19-7 on the year after what was more than likely their final match of the season. 

Both Stanford and BYU used four sets to advance past the first round of tournament play Wednesday, the Cardinal defeating No. 6 seed USC while the Cougars took care of seventh-seed Concordia.

The MPSF tournament final between Stanford and No. 1 seed UCLA will take place Saturday at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal hope history repeats itself after upending a top-seeded Bruins squad a year ago in the league tournament.