No. 3 Gauchos Suffer First Defeat to No. 2 BYU, 3-1

Grady Yould (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Grady Yould (Photo by Jeff Liang)

PROVO, Utah.—The battle between the second and third best teams in the country went to host No. 2 BYU Friday night, as No. 3 UC Santa Barbara was bested for the first time this season. The Gauchos bounced back after dropping the first set, but ultimately fell in four sets 25-16, 21-25, 25-21, 25-17.

A normally very potent UCSB offense struggled at Smith Fieldhouse posting its second lowest hitting percentage of the season at .272. Senior outside hitter led the team with 15 kills but was not his usual efficient self seeing eight errors and a .159 attack line on a season high 44 swings. The Cougar defense played a huge role in this with its seven team blocks as three different players earning four block assists each.

BYU came out hot taking off in the first set after battling through the opening points. UCSB answered with a big set of their own in the second taking an early lead and never looking back. A 6-3 run late granted them the tying set as both teams headed to the locker rooms notched at 1-1.

The third set was the closest battle of the night with each team trading punches until they met at 17-17. From there BYU capitalized on UCSB miscues, including three service errors, and closed the set on an 8-4 run.

The fourth and final set saw the host Cougars ride the momentum from the huge third frame to their ninth straight victory to remain undefeated.

The Gaucho was spread out evenly in the team's first matchup in Provo, Utah as four players saw nine or more kills. Keenan Sanders saw 10 kills, followed by Roy McFarland and Keenan Sanders who each chipped in nine. Sanders was incredibly efficient despite the efforts of the BYU defense finding his 10 kills on just 14 swings.

Senior setter Casey McGarry went for a season-high 42 assists and added a team best 12 digs.

The two teams will be back in Smith Fieldhouse tomorrow night for their final matchup of the regular season. First serve is set for 5:00 p.m. PST.