MVB: Gauchos’ postseason run is blocked at BYU

Top-seeded BYU dominated at the net and swept UCSB in the semifinals of the MPSF men’s volleyball tournament on Thursday in Provo, Utah.

The set scores were 25-19, 25-22, 25-20.

The Cougars had 35 block assists, and outblocked the Gauchos 17.5 to 3 as a team.

“They put up a huge block in our face,” UCSB coach Rick McLaughlin said.

“17.5 blocks is way, way higher than our average is and especially in three sets. That’s a really, really high number,” said BYU coach Chris McGown.

Michael Hatch was a big part of BYU’s sizable blocking advantage, finishing with 13 block assists.

Two-time MPSF Player of the Year Taylor Sander pounded 15 kills and hit. 500 to pace the BYU attack.

UCSB was led by Matt Hanley with 12 kills and Evan Licht with nine. The Gauchos were held to a .086 hitting percentage and had only six block assists on the night.

A block by Sander and Hatch on Licht and an attack error by the Gauchos gave BYU a 10-7 lead in the first set. The Cougars got up by as many as six points.

UCSB led 16-14 in the second set before BYU went on a four-point run. The Gauchos tied the score at 20-20 and 21-21. But the Cougar block enabled them to regain momentum. Robbie Sutton and Michael Hatch combined on a block to cap a three-point run, putting them ahead 24-21. Licht sided-out for UCSB, but a serving error gave BYU the winning point.

In the third set, a Hanley kill tied the score at 17-17. But a Gaucho service error followed by an ace from BYU’s Devin Young gave the Cougars the lead for good. At 21-19, the Cougars blocked for three straight points for a 24-19 lead. After a BYU service error, Tim Dobbert put the ball way for the winning point.

UCSB finishes the year at 18-9. BYU is 20-8 and plays Stanford for the MPSF Tournament title on Saturday.

Stanford beat Pepperdine in three sets (25-16, 25-19, 25-16) in the other semifinal in Provo.