No. 7 BYU takes down No. 8 Pepperdine in five sets on the road

The No. 7 BYU men's volleyball team defeated No. 8 Pepperdine in five sets (24-26, 25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 15-12) on Friday night at the Firestone Fieldhouse courtesy of nine Cougar aces.

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MALIBU, Calif. — No. 7 BYU men's volleyball defeated No. 8 Pepperdine in five sets (24-26, 25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 15-12) on Friday night at the Firestone Fieldhouse. 

The Cougars' serving took center stage after a 13-day break, as the team combined for nine aces with 11 service errors. Ian Little contributed a career-high four aces for BYU, three of which came in a row during a 5-0 run in set three to help the Cougars win the set. 

Luke Benson led the Cougars with 21 kills in the match on .318 hitting percentage, tying his career high in kills. Kupono Browne contributed 11 kills of his own, combined with three service aces. Miks Ramanis also contributed with nine kills.

The win against the Pepperdine broke the Waves' six-game winning streak, dating back to Wednesday, February 28.

Set One

The Cougars and Waves began set one by alternating points back and forth. Kills by Ramanis, Browne and two from Benson helped the Cougars stay in it. Two aces from Browne put the Cougars up 9-8, but the points continued to teeter as the teams tied up at 14, with two back-to-back kills from Benson. 

More kills from Benson and Ramanis continued to help the Cougars answer each Wave point. Pepperdine only went up by more than one with two kills at 21-19, forcing a BYU timeout. Fresh out of the huddle, Ramanis and Browne tied it up with kills, and a block by Browne and Teon Taylor put the Cougars up 22-21, forcing Pepperdine to take a timeout of its own. The Waves were able to close out the first set with back-to-back kills and take the set 26-24.

Set Two

The Waves jumped out early in the second set, going up 7-3. A kill from Tyler Herget, two Pepperdine attack errors, a kill from Browne and blocks from Browne, Ramanis and Taylor gave the Cougars a 5-0 run to go up 8-7, forcing a Pepperdine timeout. 

Out of the timeout, the Waves tied it up at nine and followed with two kills to go up 12-10. Two kills from Julien were followed by two BYU service errors, keeping the Cougars down by two. Five of the next nine points went the Cougars' way due to errors from the Waves, but Pepperdine kept grabbing their points through kills. 

The set was tied at 19 when Benson had two big kills, forcing a Pepperdine timeout. Despite taking a moment to compose themselves, the Waves failed to respond, as Browne scored two aces, followed by yet another Benson kill. A big block from Herget and Julien closed up set two with a 7-0 run at 25-19. 

Set Three

Benson started set three just where he left off with two quick kills, trading them for two Pepperdine kills to tie it up at two. Three quick Wave attack errors put the Cougars up 5-2, followed by two points for Pepperdine to keep the set within one. The teams traded points up to 8-7 with a Browne attack and Pepperdine error to bring the Cougars up 10-7. Three errors on the Cougars' end tied up the set 10-10. 

The teeter-totter of points continued up to 14-13 for Pepperdine before the Waves went on a 3-0 run. A kill from Jon Stanley ended the Wave run and ignited a 5-0 run for the Cougars as Little subbed in and grabbed four aces in a row, putting BYU up 18-17.

A Stanley kill tied the set up at 19, followed by a Pepperdine kill. The defensive efforts from Stanley, Taylor and Browne paid off to tie it up again at 20. A Pepperdine service error, two Benson kills and another block from Julien and Browne closed out the set for the Cougars at 25-22, BYU going up 2-1 for the match.

Set Four

Pepperdine settled down in the fourth set, going up as much as seven points. Despite two Wave errors and a kill from Ramanis late in the set to bring it within four, Pepperdine finished the fourth 25-20, tying up the match 2-2 and headed to a fifth set. 

Set Five

The fifth set started back and forth, but a block by Herget, Ramanis and Taylor helped shift the momentum for the Cougars, leading to a kill from Ramanis and two from Taylor to make it 8-5. The Waves grabbed three quick points to tie it up at eight, forcing a BYU timeout. 

Out of the break, the Cougars grabbed a block from Taylor and Browne, another ace from Little and a kill by Browne to make a 3-0 run, going up 8-0 and forcing a Pepperdine timeout. 

After swapping service errors, a kill from Benson and a big block from Herget, Julien and Ramanis forced another Pepperdine pause at 14-10. The Pepperdine coaching staff challenged and won an attack error call from Pepperdine’s Akin Akinwumi, extending the game 14-11. Akinwumi responded with a service ace, bringing the score 14-12, followed by a service error to close out the match, 15-12.

Up Next

The Cougars will look to grab another win against the Waves at Firestone Fieldhouse on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT. The match can be streamed on ESPN+.