No. 7 BYU defeats No. 11 USC in four sets, back-to-back nights

23mVLB vs USC 3-31 23823mVLB vs USC 3-31 238

PROVO, Utah — Extending its win streak to six games, the No. 7 BYU men's volleyball team defeated No. 11 USC winning the match 3-1 (25-20, 30-28, 24-26, 25-14) at the Smith Fieldhouse Friday evening. The Cougars are also undefeated at home this season, winning 12 games in the Smith Fieldhouse.

"We got more experience on the court tonight," said head coach Shawn Olmstead. "Kupono is getting better and better with time. There was no doubt from us that he wasn't going to bounce back after last night's performance from the service line. He shined with four aces and three errors and hit another great clip tonight. We also saw a glimpse of who Heath Hughes truly is. Coming back from a surgery isn't easy, but we are seeing him get more and more confident since then."

Senior setter Heath Hughes tied his season high of 49 assists and tallied eight digs. Kupono Browne's 16 kills led the Cougars while Miks Ramanis recorded 14 of his own to help propel BYU to victory. Browne also registered four aces, tying his individual season record. Offensively, the Cougars outhit the Trojans .404 to .283 on the night. 

Defensively, BYU forced 20 attack errors by USC, opposed to BYU's 13 attack errors. Middle blocker Teon Taylor was a perfect nine for nine in kills and also led the Cougars in blocks with four. 

Set One

Tonight's match began with a back-and-forth set one as both teams were tied at 5-5 before the Trojans jumped out to an 8-5 lead after scoring three consecutive points. The Cougars were able to tie things back up at 10-10 following an error from USC. 

BYU took a 13-12 lead following a service ace from Browne and led 15-14 before a timeout was called on the floor. USC tied things back up at 17 following the timeout, but a kill at the net from Ramanis gave the Cougars an 18-17 advantage. The Cougars continued to hold their lead and won the set 25-20 following a kill by Luke Benson at the net. 

BYU outhit USC .400 to .217 in the set. 

Set Two

In the second set, both teams were tied at 4-4 before the Trojans took a 5-4 advantage. BYU quickly regained the lead at 6-5 following a kill at the net from Benson. 

USC would go on to take an 11-9 lead and would maintain their lead at 15-13 before a timeout was called. Following the timeout, the Cougars stormed back to tie things up at 16-16 following a kill by Ramanis. 

The score remained tied a 24-24 as both teams kept trading points before BYU took a 25-24 lead, forcing the Trojans to call a timeout. USC responded following the timeout, knotting the score up at 28-28 before the Cougars secured the set 30-28 bringing the Smith Fieldhouse to its feet. 

Despite the Trojans leading BYU in kills during the set (19-16), the Cougars were able to overcome USC by outhitting them .394 to .342. 

Set Three

The Trojans jumped out to an early 6-3 lead in the third set before BYU was able to tie things up at 7-7 following a service ace from Benson that was 80 miles per hour. 

Later in the set, USC would go on to lead 15-12 before a media timeout. The Cougars responded following the timeout, scoring consecutive points, and cutting their deficit to 15-14 following a service ace by Browne. 

BYU later tied things up at 18-18 following a block at the net by Teon Taylor and took the lead at 19-18 after a Ramanis kill. The Cougars would extend their lead to 23-20 before the Trojans would score consecutive points cutting their deficit to 23-22. 

A failed serve by USC pushed BYU's lead to 24-22, but four-straight points by the Trojans would give them a 26-24 set victory. USC outhit the Cougars in the set .458 to .321. 

Set Four

In the fourth set, the score was knotted at 3-3 before BYU scored three-straight points taking a 6-3 lead. The Cougars would later extend their lead to 9-4 following a service ace from Trent Moser

The Cougars continued to apply pressure and extended their lead to 19-9 following a service ace from Browne. BYU would eventually go on to win the set and clinch the match following a service error by USC, winning 25-14. 

The Cougars will host Stanford for a two-match series beginning Friday night at Smith Fieldhouse. Senior Night recognitions for Heath Hughes and Mitchel Worthington will be held on Saturday, following the match. Both games will begin at 7 p.m. MDT and can be streamed on BYUtv/BYUtv app/