PROVO, Utah – Sophomore Brenden Sander helped propel No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball to a sweep (25-16, 25-12, 25-17) of USC on senior night Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse to clinch the outright Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular-season title.
“I thought we could have played a little bit better, but I’m happy for the guys and am excited to get the win,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We’re still far from where we want to be, so we’re going to stay the course and keep getting better and know that nothing is changing right now.”
Sander finished with a team-high eight kills while adding three digs and one block. Price Jarman collected a team-high six blocks to go with seven kills on a .667 clip and Ben Patch followed with seven kills and two blocks. Leo Durkin directed the offense with 22 assists and five digs. Michael Hatch added four blocks and five kills in the win.
BYU (23-3, 19-3 MPSF) and USC (7-19, 5-17 MPSF) opened the first set trading points until a Sander kill and Jake Langlois and Jarman block gave the Cougars their first lead of the set, 6-5. Two more blocks from Jarman then brought BYU up 8-5. With a couple of service errors from the Trojans and kills from Sander and Patch, the Cougars extended their lead to 12-8. BYU then went on a 4-1 run to bring the score to 16-9. USC countered with a 5-3 rally to bring its deficit down to five at 19-14. Two kills by Jarman and Sander extended the Cougars' lead at 21-14, forcing a Trojan timeout. BYU maintained its lead to the end of the set, taking it 25-16 on a block from Tim Dobbert and Hatch.
Kills from Jarman and Sander helped the Cougars take a 6-3 advantage to start the second set. An ace and kill from Patch then started a 5-2 BYU run before a service error handed the ball back to USC with the Cougars leading 11-5. BYU and the Trojans remained within six points of each other going back-and-forth to bring the score to 15-9. A pair of Hatch kills then brought the Cougars back up by seven, 16-9. BYU kept the lead and never trailed by more than seven in the last few points of the game, ending on a 9-3 run. A block from Jarman and Sander gave the Cougars set point while an attack error from USC ended the set 25-12.
A pair of Patch kills followed by an ace from Sander helped BYU take a 4-1 lead in the final set. The Trojans rallied back, going on a 5-1 rally, to tie the Cougars at 6-6. BYU pulled ahead once again with kills from Patch and Sander to extend its lead to 12-8 before USC took a timeout. The Trojans then closed the gap to 13-10 before the Cougars started on a 5-2 run, forcing the Trojans to take another timeout. The teams rallied back and forth before a service error gave the Cougars set point. BYU ended the match 25-17 with a kill from Carson Heninger.
The Cougars return to action at home Saturday, April 16, at 7 p.m. MDT in the first round of the MPSF Tournament. BYU will play as the one seed against a yet-to-be-determined foe. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU men's volleyball schedule page.