The road to the MPSF Tournament championship will go through BYU all thanks to All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander.
Sander had a match-high 23 kills as No. 2 BYU defeated No. 9 UCLA 22-25, 25-22, 28-26, 25-21 on Saturday in Provo, Utah, to clinch the No. 1 seed for the upcoming MPSF Tournament and a share of the conference regular season title.
Sander playing on his senior night had 13 kills in the final two games, including the overtime game-winning kill in the third game against the Bruins (15-9, 12-8 MPSF). The 2013 Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year also finished the match leading all players with a .526 attack percentage.
This was the second consecutive match and the sixth time this season that Sander finished with at least 20 kills in a match.
BYU (18-2, 18-4 MPSF) in the victory out-hit UCLA .384 to .336 and had a .500 attack percentage in the final game. Along with Sander, outside attacker Josue Rivera also had 11 kills and opposite Tim Dobbert added 10 kills.
With this victory, BYU for the second consecutive year clinched home court advantage throughout the MPSF Tournament. The Cougars also set a conference record for the earliest in the season a team has clinched the No. 1 seed.
In addition,the BYU win earned the team a share of the MPSF regular season title. The Cougars can win the conference out-right if they win one of their remaining four conference matches or if second-place Pepperdine loses any of its remaining matches.
All-American Spencer Rowe playing out of traditional position in the loss led UCLA with 19 kills. Coach John Speraw at the start of the match opted to move Rowe from middle attacker to opposite.
Outside attacker Gonzalo Quiroga also added 15 kills against BYU, including 10 kills in the opening two games.
The loss drops UCLA into seventh place in the MPSF with four matches remaining in the regular season. In addition, the Bruins have now lost six or their last eight matches.
This was the first of two regular season meetings between the BYU and UCLA. The two teams will close out the regular season against each on April 12 in Los Angeles.