PROVO, Utah—No. 1 seed BYU men’s volleyball swept (25-13, 25-18, 25-17) No. 8 seed USC in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) conference tournament quarterfinals Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“For the guys to come out and play like this, I was really impressed,” head coach Chris McGown said. “I thought everybody did a great job, top to bottom. We passed really well and just really put a lot of pressure on (USC) the whole time. That was the story of the match.”
MPSF Player of the Year Taylor Sander finished with 13 kills and four aces to lead the Cougars (19-8, 18-6 MPSF). Josue Rivera recorded 10 kills to go along with six blocks, tying his career high. Tim Dobbert contributed 10 kills and posted a career-high hitting percentage at .500, and Michael Hatch pitched in six blocks and six kills.
Making his first career start, Robbie Sutton posted 36 assists, three blocks and two kills, all career highs.
The Trojans (16-11, 14-10 MPSF) were led by MPSF Freshman of the Year Lucas Yoder’s 10 kills. Andy Benesh chipped in six kills and Micah Christenson recorded 29 assists.
The Cougars started off the first set with five straight points, including two kills by Hatch, to force an early Trojan timeout. Leading 9-5, BYU scored three straight on kills by Devin Young and a block by Sutton to extend the lead to 12-5. BYU advanced to 23-12 after scoring five straight. Sander’s kill finished the set for the Cougars, 25-13. Sander and Rivera paced the Cougars with five and four kills, respectively, in the set.
BYU jumped out to a 9-6 lead in the second frame behind three kills each from Sander and Dobbert. Sander then reeled off three consecutive service aces to push the lead to 12-6. The lead grew to 16-7 with three BYU blocks, but the Trojans pulled to within five at 18-13 after scoring five straight. Kills by Hatch and Sander gave the Cougars a set point opportunity, which Rivera converted with a kill of his own to win the set, 25-18.
After battling to a 9-9 tie, the Cougars started taking control of the third set with consecutive kills from Dobbert, Sander and Rivera to build a 12-9 lead. BYU maintained its three-point lead, with Rivera pacing the offense. Yoder kept the Trojans in the set with three kills during that stretch. Back-to-back points from Sander extended the Cougar lead to 20-15. After consecutive USC points, BYU scored four straight to get its first match point opportunity. Hatch and Dobbert combined for the block to give BYU a 25-17 win.
The victory is BYU's 24th consecutive win at the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars haven't lost at home since February 2013.
With the victory, BYU will host the remainder of the conference tournament. The Cougars advance to the semifinals where they will play either UC Santa Barbara or UCLA on Thursday, April 24 at 8 p.m. MDT at the Smith Fieldhouse. The other semifinal game will be played at 5 p.m. on the same day. The tournament championship is slated for Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m. MDT.
Top-seeded Cougars host 8-seed USC in MPSF quarterfinals
PROVO, Utah—No.1-seed BYU men’s volleyball welcomes No. 8-seed USC to the Smith Fieldhouse for the quarterfinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament Saturday at 7 p.m. MDT.
The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv and streamed live on byutv.org.
In the last meeting, the Cougars (18-8, 18-6 MPSF) swept USC (16-10, 14-10 MPSF) at the Fieldhouse Feb. 28. Earlier in the month, BYU defeated the Trojans 3-2 in California. The Cougars lead the overall series 32-11 and are 19-4 against USC at home.
BYU tied for first place with Pepperdine in the MPSF after regular-season play. It’s the Cougars’ second straight league title. With a victory Saturday, BYU would host the MPSF semifinals and final April 24 and 26, respectively.
After four road losses to end the season, the Cougars look to bounce back with a win Saturday. BYU is on a 23-match win streak in the Fieldhouse, stretching back to February 2013. The Cougars finished the regular season with an 11-0 home record.
Taylor Sander leads the Cougars with 4.53 kills per set, good for No. 2 in the nation. Michael Hatch leads the team with 1.34 blocks per set, which is No. 4 nationally. Other stat leaders include Jaylen Reyes with 1.78 digs per set and Tyler Heap with 10.60 assists per set.
For USC, Micah Christenson is first in the nation with an 11.69 assists average. Henry Cassiday is No. 2 nationally in digs per set with 3.04. Lucas Yoder leads the team in kills with 4.04 per set, while Andy Benesh leads in blocks with .97 per set.
Links to live stats and live streaming are available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.