BYU saved its best postseason match in the conference tournament for when it needed it the most and punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
All-American freshman outside attacker Ben Patch had a match-high 18 kills and 11 digs as the No. 1 seed BYU swept the No. 3 seed Long Beach State 28-26, 25-22, 25-22 on Saturday in Provo, Utah to win the MPSF Tournament.
With this victory, BYU secures the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and a likely No. 1 overall seed the upcoming Final Four. This is also the first time the Cougars have reached the NCAA Tournament since 2004.
The Cougars in the victory out-hit the 49ers .346 to .313, including having a match-high .480 attack percentage in the final game.
Patch was one of two BYU players to have double-digit kills in the victory. Outside attacker Taylor Sander, the 2013 MPSF Player of the Year, had a 15 kills and also added a game-winning ace with the score 24-23 in the opening game.
Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb in the loss had a team-high 16 kills, while outside attacker Dalton Ammerman added 13 kills.
This championship match was played in front of 4,190 people in attendance — the highest attended MPSF Tournament championship match in more than 10 years.
BYU advanced to the conference championship match after overcoming deficit in its previous conference tournament matches. BYU rallied from a one-game deficit to beat the No. 8 seed Hawai’i in five games in the quarterfinals and then overcame a two-game deficit to beat the No. 4 seed UCLA in five games Thursday in the semifinals.
BYU will advance to play in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday in Los Angeles.
The NCAA Tournament field, including the Cougars semifinal opponent, will be announced at 3 p.m. (EST) Sunday. The latest Off the Block bracketology projections has BYU as the No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament.
The 49ers after reaching the conference championship will now have to wait to see if they can reach the NCAA Tournament as the at-large bid. Long Beach State and UC Irvine are the two perceived favorites to earn the lone at-large bid entering Selection Sunday.
Long Beach State defeated UC Irvine in five games in the conference tournament semifinals. However, both teams finished the regular season with identical conference records and the Anteaters beat the 49ers three times in the regular season.