Road Trip Continues at USC

(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

No. 9 BYU (5-4, 3-1 MPSF) remains on the road this week as it visits fifth-ranked USC (5-2, 2-1 MPSF) on Feb. 6 & 7. The Cougars are coming off a 1-1 trip to UC Santa Barbara last weekend. BYU and UCSB split a pair of five-set matches, marking the Cougars’ first five-set match win in 2009.

The Trojans recently had their five-match win streak snapped at the hands of No. 3 Pepperdine. The Waves swept USC at home on Jan. 30.

Series Information

The Cougars have beaten the Trojans in the last 14 meetings between the two schools. The last time USC topped BYU was in February of 2001 on the Trojans’ home floor. Overall, the Cougars lead the series 24-7 and 10-3 in Los Angeles. Nine wins of the current 14-win streak have been sweeps while only two matches have gone to five sets.

Coming Off...A 3-2 Win at UC Santa Barbara

Just one night after falling in five sets to No. 10 UC Santa Barbara, the No. 9 BYU men’s volleyball team rebounded to defeat the Gauchos 3-2 (29-31, 31-29, 15-30, 30-24, 15-8) on Saturday night. With the win the Cougars improve to 5-4 on the season and 3-1 in MFSP play. Saturday also marks BYU’s first five-set win of the 2009 season.

The weekend’s two matches were anomalies in a series that has resulted in sweeps in 24 of the previous 39 matchups. Only twice did the competition go on to five sets during that time span.

Several Cougars set new career highs against UCSB, starting with junior opposite Mat Taylor who recorded 26 kills on the night and also led the team with his .429 hitting percentage.

Junior outside hitter Andrew Stewart finished second on the team with 21 kills, while sophomore transfer Alex Da Pron recorded a career-high 10 kills. Junior setter Yamil Perez racked up 66 assists, a new season high, while redshirt freshman Futi Tavana put up a career-high 10 total blocks.

Last Year Against USC

April 11, 2008

Creeping ever closer to solidifying home-court advantage throughout the upcoming Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoff, the No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team (22-4, 17-4) swept No. 10 USC (13-14, 10-11) 30-26, 30-24, 30-25 in the Smith Fieldhouse before preparing to face the Trojans Saturday night in the last regular season match of the year.

A BYU win in conjunction with a CS Northridge win over Long Beach State in Northridge, Calif., Saturday would seal home-court advantage for the Cougars throughout the MPSF playoffs.

Senior All-American Russell Holmes led BYU with 10 kills on the night on 17 swings to go along with four block assists. Fellow senior middle blocker Trent Sorensen had nine kills on the night on 12 swings with one block solo, four block assists, and only one block error. As a team, BYU hit .312 on the night with 10.5 total team blocks to USC’s .177 percentage and 6.0 team-block outing.

“I thought we did a great job against USC’s fast offense,” BYU head coach Shawn Patchell said. “Nothing really surprised us, but we have to suspect that USC will do an even better job against us tomorrow.”

Although BYU won the first set 30-26, USC controlled the lead early in the set. It was not until senior Jonathan Charette jumped up to the service line with the Cougars down 13-15 that BYU was able to gain the advantage. The Cougars scored five consecutive points and kept the Trojans from regaining the lead again in the set. Charette started the run by bombing two huge serves that the Trojans over passed and Holmes was able to spike back to the floor. In total, BYU hit .294 to USC’s .250, and each team recorded 2.0 total team blocks.

“Our offense was sputtering at first, and Jon [Charette] took it upon himself to get us back in the game,” Patchell commented.

The second set was all Cougars as they won 30-24 on a Sorensen kill. BYU’s lead reached seven points at 19-12 and did not drop below four points since that mark. Both the offense and the defense picked up for the home squad in the second set as BYU hit .455 and recorded 5.0 total team blocks in the set. Conversely, USC’s performance dropped to a .200 hitting percentage with only one total team block in the set.

The Cougars continued to roll into the third set and completed the sweep with a 30-2 win. The biggest lead for BYU in the third set reached ten points at 22-12, but USC kept its fight alive and pulled back to with four at 27-23. Sorensen had four kills on four swings in the set to lead the team. The Cougars only hit .208 in the set, but they held the Trojans to a .045 attack percentage to maintain an advantage.

April 12, 2008

The No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team (23-4, 18-4) clinched a share of the regular-season Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title with a three-set sweep over No. 10 USC (13-15, 10-12) in the Smith Fieldhouse.

The team’s five seniors were honored after Saturday’s match. Jonathan Charette, Brian Congelliere, Russell Holmes, Ivan Perez, and Trent Sorensen all started the match and were significant contributors. Charette led all attackers with 14 kills on the night, and Sorensen led all blockers setting a season-high with 10.

“Things went the way we wanted them to go here tonight,” BYU head coach Shawn Patchell said. “Our guys were spot on with their blocking. We’re peaking at the right time.”

Defense was the story in a 30-22 BYU win in the first set. The Cougars hit only .155 in the set, but held USC to a -.160 attack percentage. The set was won at the net, though, as BYU recorded 6.0 total team blocks in the set including six block assists from Sorensen. The Trojans were also solid at the net with 3.5 total team blocks, but the Cougars never trailed in the set.

The offensive intensity increased in the second set, but BYU tightened its grip on USC and won 30-25. Charette had five kills in the set and Perez had three block assists. Neither team hit well, .206 for the Cougars and .167 for the Trojans, but each team recorded 3.0 total team blocks. BYU’s 11 digs in the set allowed the team four more swings than USC in the set as the blue and white recorded 17 kills to the Trojans’ 12.

The Cougars lit up their offense in the third set to complete the sweep with a 30-22 win. BYU hit .412 in the set led by Perez’s five kills on nine swings. Both teams increased their total team blocks with 4.5 apiece in the set, but USC’s .034 was not enough to keep the Trojans in contention.

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