It was BYU’s senior night but it was a sophomore that stole the show.
Outside hitter Taylor Sander, widely considered the best player in the country, had 20 kills and hit .515 for the match as the No. 4 Cougars defeated No. 7 Penn State 3-0 (23-25, 22-25, 17-25) Saturday night to sweep the weekend series.
Sander was the only player in the match to reach double digit kills.
It was an offensive struggle for Penn State as the Nittany Lions hit just .260 for the match going up against BYU’s top-rated blocking unit. Redshirt senior Joe Sunder struggled mightily, recording a season-low five kills on .167 hitting.
Sunder was pulled in the third set with BYU leading 8-7 and replaced by sophomore Peter Russell.
Penn State continued to keep it close but after the Lions took a timeout trailing 17-14, BYU’s offensive attack led by Sander was simply too much and they closed the match out on an 8-3 run.
The first two sets were close with both teams exchanging the lead multiple times. Penn State at one point had a 20-16 lead in the first set but it couldn’t put BYU away.
With the loss, the Lions drop to 20-5 on the season and just 2-4 against MPSF opponents. All of their losses have come on the road.
Junior Tom Comfort and freshman Aaron Russell each had nine kills to lead the way offensively for the Lions. Comfort also led the team in service aces with two.
Comfort started both games on the weekend as Nick Goodell didn’t make the trip due to a shoulder injury.
Penn State concludes its regular season schedule next Saturday when it hosts Saint Francis at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall.