One of BYU's greatest weapons was significantly subdued this week as thousands of BYU students went home after finals ended on Wednesday, and the attendance at the Smith Fieldhouse was significantly less than normal on what could have been the final home match of the season.
Despite having nearly lost to UC Santa Barbra a month ago in Provo, and losing to them just a few weeks ago in Santa Barbra, BYU prepared hard all week and came out on Thursday night ready to put the Gauchos away for good. Both teams played strong, but from the first serve to the last, BYU had an edge and determination that kept Santa Barbra from ever becoming a real threat.
After starting off the set evenly, BYU put together a 10-4 run to build a 17-11 lead, and maintained at least a 4 point cushion on their way to a 25-19 win. Through the second set UC Santa Barbra held their ground much better and kept the game within two points all the way until 21-21. Then a UCSB service error, a Taylor Sander kill and a Hatch/Sutton block put BYU on set point 24-21 and eventually took a closely contested set 25-22.
Coming out in the third set the Gauchos were even more fiery, eventually getting four in a row and gaining their largest lead at 5-9. They seemed to be playing well, hitting strong and finally showing off their true power as one of the top teams in the country. BYU however didn't want to stay out any later than they had to, after affording the Gauchos a four point lead the Cougars fought back in small spurts to eventually make it a tie game at 17-17. During that stretch BYU put up six blocks, and would notch three more in the final four points of the match. BYU had a total of 17.5 team blocks on the night, which is the ridiculous total, especially for only playing three sets. BYU won the final set 25-20.
Standford also swept their competition Thursday (Pepperdine) and will face BYU in the MPSF Final on Saturday. Stanford is always one of the better teams BYU plays against and will surely bring their best for the final. The Cardinal are on a 13 match win streak going back to February 28th, but they did lose both regular season matches against BYU 2-3 (at Stanford) and 1-3 (in Provo).