Outside attacker Josh Taylor came through when No. 3 Pepperdine need him the most and helped the team knock-off No. 4 BYU.
Taylor in the decisive fifth game led all players with five kills and added two blocks and an ace as Pepperdine defeated BYU 25-19, 17-25, 25-21, 26-28, 15-11 on Friday in Malibu, Calif.
Hall of Fame Pepperdine coach Marv Dunphy said he was pleased with the way Taylor played late in the conference match and how the junior helped the team rally from an early three-point deficit in the fifth game.
“You want to be your best when the best is needed. He certainly played well” Dunphy said. “I’m glad he’s on our side because I think their is an upside to his game.”
Taylor finished with a match-high 21 kills in the, including have 10 kills in the final two games. This was also the sixth consecutive match Taylor led the Waves (5-1, 5-1 MPSF) in kills — despite him having one kill on one attack attempt in the team’s six-point opening game win against BYU (6-3, 4-1 MPSF).
Along with Taylor, opposite Parker Kalmbach finished with 17 kills. Kalmbach and Taylor were the only two Waves to have double-digit kills as BYU out-hit Pepperdine .242 to .225 in the match.
BYU outside attacker Taylor Sander, the 2013 Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year, ended with a team-high 19 kills in the Cougars’ first conference loss of the season.
In addition, Dunphy said he was impressed with Sander’s offensive performance and ability to get kills through Pepperdine’s block.
“Taylor is the best player in college volleyball,” Dunphy said. “He makes them special.”
The Cougars in the loss had a season-high 15 blocks — 1.5 more blocks than the Waves. Both teams entered this weekend among the nation’s leaders in blocks with each having more than a 2.75 blocks per game average.
Middle attacker Devin Young led BYU with a career-high eight blocks, while Pepperdine middle attacker Nikola Antonijevic added a team-high eight blocks.
Dunphy said the match lived up to his expectations throughout the week of it showcasing the two teams’ defensive capabilities.
“We knew that they were a good read-blocking team and they were going to to get some blocks and digs,” he said. “You better pass some well and run some offense otherwise they are going block some things and they do a job of that.”
With this victory, Pepperdine moves a half-match behind BYU for second place in the MPSF.
BYU entered the weekend on a six-match winning streak and tied with UCLA for first-place in the MPSF. The loss also now makes UCLA (8-1, 5-0 MPSF) the only remaining MPSF team in conference play.
Dunphy said it was important for Pepperdine to pick-up the home conference win against a team atop the MPSF standings. The coach also said, though, he’s not placing too much emphasis in the early-season victory.
“Every match is important and has a life of its own,” Dunphy said. “It’s a win. It’s just one win. There’s a lot of meat still left on the bone here.”