Ben Patch, Taylor Sander, Russ Lavaja named volleyball All-Americans

BYU's Ben Patch and Taylor Sander were named AVCA first-team All-Americans, and teammate Russ Lavaja joined them with second-team honors.

BYU's Ben Patch and Taylor Sander were named AVCA Division I-II first-team All-Americans, and teammate Russ Lavaja joined them with second-team All-America status in a release Thursday by the association.

BYU ties UC Irvine and UCLA for the most All-American athletes with three overall. The Cougars and Anteaters each have two first-team All-Americans, and the Bruins placed one first-team and two second-team athletes.

Patch, who was also named national newcomer of the year, is a 6-foot-8 opposite who attended Provo High School, adjacent to BYU's campus. The MPSF freshman of the year ranks second on the team and 12th in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with 3.57 kills per set.

Sander, the 6-4 outside hitter from Huntington Beach, Calif., stepped up his game in this third year of collegiate volleyball. The junior and regular feature on the U.S. national team averages a fifth-best nationally 3.85 kills per set on a .330 hitting percentage. An equally adept server, Sander already holds BYU's all-time record for career aces with 124 - and counting. This is Sander's third AVCA All-American honor.

Lavaja, the 6-7 middle blocker and senior from St. Charles, Ill., earned his first All-American honor as the Cougars' most precise hitter, putting down a team-best .456 hitting percentage that also ranks second in the MPSF. His 98 blocks and 1.18 blocks per set also lead BYU and rank 11th in the nation.

UC Irvine's Michael Brinkley and Kevin Tillie, UCLA's Gonzalo Quiroga, Cal Baptist's Levi Cabral, Stanford's Brian Cook, Long Beach State's Taylor Crabb, UC Santa Barbara's Dylan Davis and Pepperdine's Matt West round out the first team.

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