Fourth time was a charm for Stanford.
After losing three previous meetings this season, the No. 3 seed Stanford rallied from a one-game deficit and fought off two match-points to beat the No. 2 seed BYU 25-18, 21-25, 25-22, 29-27, 15-12 in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Tuesday in Chicago.
All-American Outside attacker Brian Cook in the victory had a team-high 19 kills, including a game-high six kills in the decisive fifth game.
Cook was one of three Cardinal player with double-digit kills against BYU. Outside attacker Eric Mochalkski had 18 kills, while All-American outside attacker added 17 kills.
Outside attacker Taylor Sander in the loss finished a match-high 28 kills.
Sander, the 2014 AVCA National Player of the Year had 21 kills in the games two through four but was held to two kills in the decisive fifth game. This was also the fourth time in the four-time All-American’s college career that he finished with at least 20 kills against Stanford.
Along with his offensive performance, Sander added a match-high four aces and a block.
Stanford finished the match out-hitting BYU .333 to .275. In addition, libero Grant Delgado had match-high 19 digs against the Cougars.
Stanford forced a decisive fifth game after rallied from an early fourth-game deficit and fought off a match-point to force overtime. In addition, the Cardinal in the overtime fought off another match-point fought off another match before middle attacker Conrad Kaminski had a game-winning ace that hit the line to force a decisive fifth game.
With BYU leading 16-10 in the third game, Stanford went on a 10-4 run to tie the match. However, the Cougars responded on a 4-1 run and Sander finished the game a cross-court kill to give BYU a one-game lead.
Sander had a game-high seven kills kills to help BYU win the second game and even the match at 1-1. In addition, the Cougars had 5.5 blocks in the second game after having zero blocks in the opening game.
Mochalski in the first game led all players with nine kills, while Irvin added eight kills as the Cardinal had a .679 attack percentage. Stanford jumped up to an early 8-3 lead in the opening game and led by as many as seven points to get a one-game lead.
With this victory, Stanford advances to the NCAA Tournament championship match for the first time since winning the national title in 2010.
This is the first time in BYU’s five NCAA Tournament appearances that it failed to reach the championship match. It was also the first since 2006 that a NCAA Tournament semifinal match went to a decisive fifth game.