And a little child shall lead them.
Freshman sensation Ben Patch scored four of his match-high 25 kills in the decisive fifth set to help the top-ranked BYU men’s volleyball team rally past scrappy, upstart Hawaii, 25-19, 20-25, 22-25, 25-12, 15-13 in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation quarterfinal in Provo, Utah.
The Provo High School alum threw down a kill after BYU took a 13-12 advantage to set up match point, and an overturned kill by Hawaii’s Jace Olsen (who, VTF can confirm, bears no relation "Zack Morris") on a backrow violation gave the Cougars the win.
MPSF player of the year Taylor Sander added 13 kills, five blocks, six digs and a crucial ace for the Cougars (23-4), who advanced to face UCLA (21-10) next Thursday at 10 p.m. ET in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Ryan Boyce dished out 43 assists and seven digs for BYU, which finished with a .369 hitting percentage after hitting .421 in the fifth set.
Hawaii’s Brook Sedore, the reigning MPSF player of the week, continued his run of form with 18 kills and six digs to lead the Warriors, who got 16 kills and four blocks from Taylor Averill and nine kills and two blocks from Olsen.
BYU cruised to the first-set win behind a strong start from Patch and Sander, but the Warriors came back to hit a remarkable .478 hitting percentage in the second set and tie the match at 1-1 at the break.
Sander and Patch each had three kills as BYU jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the third set, but Hawaii tied the set at 11-11 and 16-16 before holding on for the 25-22 win. Both teams saw their momentum snapped by a pair of questionable calls, but Hawaii threw its big bodies at the net for seven blocks that helped the Warriors to the finish line.
But BYU wasn’t done yet.
Having been compiled a kill earlier, Russ Lavaja put together two kills and a critical block as BYU leapt to a 15-8 lead before rolling to a 25-12 advantage in the fourth set that set up the dramatic finish. Lavaja finished with six kills and three blocks for the Cougars, and teammate Josue Rivera had seven kills and five digs.
In the other MPSF semifinal, Long Beach State (23-7) will play at UC Irvine 23-6) on Thursday.