PROVO, Utah -- Sophomore Matt Underwood led No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball to a 3-0 sweep (25-22, 25-16, 25-21) over No. 7 USC Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“The best part about tonight was our serve and serve/receive,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “(USC) came in with a little bit of a different strategy to just try and put it on us and try and make us play. They held their service errors way down, but we did a really good job at the same thing. I thought we kept them out of system all night.”
Underwood had a career-high 15 kills and three digs to go along with a career-high .542 clip. Senior Taylor Sander added an additional 15 kills and game-highs in service aces (four) and digs (seven). Sophomore Tyler Heap had a game-high 36 assists and sophomore Michael Hatch led the team in blocks with five total.
BYU (11-3, 11-1 MPSF) hit a .308 clip as a team while holding USC (10-6, 9-6 MPSF) to a .217 hitting percentage. The Cougars also led in service aces 6-0 and overall blocks 9.5-2.5.
Underwood got things started for the Cougars in the first set with a decisive kill. From there, the Trojans maintained a slight edge until BYU scored three-straight to tie things up 14-14 and force a USC timeout.
With the score tied at points 14 through 17, the Cougars went on a quick 3-1 run to jump ahead 20-17. BYU was able to maintain its lead until set point, where a Trojan attack error gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead, 25-22.
Another Underwood kill capped off a 4-1 BYU run to open the second set, but USC stormed back to cut the Cougar advantage to just one at 6-5.
After the Trojans tied the set at three consecutive points, Sander scored with a service ace to help pull his team ahead 16-13. USC called its first timeout of the set after Underwood set a new career high in kills (previous high was 10), pushing BYU’s advantage to 19-15. The Trojans scored just one point after the timeout as the Cougars easily cruised to a 25-16 set two victory from a Josue Rivera kill.
The third set was tightly contested coming out of the intermission, with neither team taking more than a one-point lead until two-straight team blocks put BYU up 12-10. The score remained close following the Cougars’ first timeout of the third set, with USC tying the score at 19 for the first time since the 10-10 mark.
A kill from Rivera completed the 3-0 sweep with a 25-21 set-three win to keep BYU with a perfect home record.
“Matt (Underwood) had a great night tonight. That’s a position that teams will overlook to some extent because we’ve been running different guys through that spot, but Matt had a really nice night,” McGown said.
BYU continues play at home Saturday night as the Cougars host No. 4 Pepperdine at 7 p.m. MST. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv. Links to live stats and a video stream can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.
No. 2 men's volleyball hosts USC, Pepperdine
PROVO, Utah—No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball returns to the Smith Fieldhouse for the first time in a month, hosting No. 7 USC and No. 4 Pepperdine Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Both matches will be broadcast live on BYUtv and streamed on byutvsports.com. They will begin at 7 p.m. MST.
BYU (10-3, 10-1 MPSF) held onto its No. 2 ranking after a bye week. The Cougars reached second place after defeating then-No. 8 Stanford in a five-set thriller on the road Feb. 15. BYU is No. 1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
The Cougars are led by Taylor Sander, who is now No. 3 at BYU for career kills during the rally-scoring era with 1,451. Sander averages 4.46 kills per set this season, good for No. 4 in the nation.
USC’s back row is led by Henry Cassiday with 3.10 digs per set. Andy Benesh leads the nation in hitting percentage with a .518 clip, and Micah Christenson is No. 2 nationally in assists per set with 11.70.
The Trojans (9-5, 8-5 MPSF) will face Cal Baptist Wednesday on the road. USC comes off two wins against Hawai’i at home.
The last time BYU met USC, the Cougars won 3-2 on the road Feb. 1.
Pepperdine (8-3, 8-3 MPSF) is led by Josh Taylor with 4.46 kills per set, good for No. 3 in the nation. Nikola Antonijevic averages 1.43 blocks per set, good for No. 4 nationally.
The Waves will play at Cal Baptist Thursday before traveling to Utah. Pepperdine hosted Cal Baptist Saturday and defeated the Lancers 3-1.
The last time BYU faced Pepperdine, the Waves pulled off the win in Malibu, Calif., 3-2 Jan. 31.
Links to live stats and live streaming for both matches will be available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.