Multiple career highs give No. 7 BYU five-set victories over No. 8 Pepperdine in back-to-back wins

The No. 7 BYU men’s volleyball team defeated No. 8 Pepperdine in five sets two nights in a row, winning the match 3-2 (23-25, 25-17, 21-25 25-19, 15-7) on Saturday evening in the Firestone Fieldhouse.

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MALIBU, Calif. — The No. 7 BYU men’s volleyball team defeated No. 8 Pepperdine in five sets two nights in a row, winning the match 3-2 (23-25, 25-17, 21-25 25-19, 15-7) on Saturday evening in the Firestone Fieldhouse.

BYU's Luke Benson led all players with a career high of 26 kills on a .512 hitting percentage. Senior Gavin Julien led the BYU defense with a career high of 11 total blocks, featuring two solo blocks. Sophomore libero Jackson Fife also achieved a career high with 12 digs, while setter Tyler Herget tied his career high of 52 assists. Senior Kupono Browne led BYU in digs with 13, achieving a new career high. 

BYU finished with season highs in three seperate team categories: 67 kills, 53 digs and 17 blocks. The Cougars also held the Waves to a .182 hitting percentage. BYU is one of three teams to hold the Waves under a .200 clip this year, sitting alongside No. 1 Long Beach State and No. 3 UCLA.

Set One

The Cougars went on a 4-0 run to gain an 8-5 lead early, featuring two Browne kills and a Ramanis ace. A triple block by Ramanis, Julien and Herget gave BYU another three-point edge at 13-10, but Pepperdine would crawl its way back to score the next three points, knotting the set at 13.

The Waves applied more pressure from the service line as an ace would cause BYU to burn its first timeout when trailing by two points at 16-14. Another ace and two back-to-back kills from graduate transfer Cole Ketrzynski gave Pepperdine a four-point advantage at 20-16, causing BYU to take its second timeout.

BYU's Jon Stanley entered to serve at 22-19 and would stay on the court to help BYU fight back with a 3-0 run. Pepperdine would then score the next two points for a match point at 24-22, and would win the first set 25-23 off a BYU service error.

Set Two

The second set evened out at every number one through six, until the Cougars came alive by going on a 7-0 run, causing two Pepperdine timeouts at scores 9-6 and 12-6. The 7-0 BYU run saw two kills by Benson, another kill from Julien and four Pepperdine attack errors. 

Pepperdine could not manage a run of more than a single point at a time after its second timeout until a kill by Ethan Watson paired with a BYU service error took the score to 16-11, with the Cougars still ahead by five.

Two kills from BYU gave the Cougars a six-point advantage at 19-13, and Benson would follow with a pair of kills for a 23-15 score. Following the momentum from the opening of the second set, BYU would close with a 25-17 win off a Pepperdine attack error. Benson led the Cougar offense with seven kills in the second frame.

Set Three 

Pepperdine earned an early 3-2 lead off an ace by Ryan Barnett, the Waves’ fifth ace of the night. Each side would continue to trade points until Pepperdine scored back-to-back points for an 8-6 lead. A block by Ramanis evened the score at 10, taking BYU’s block total to 12.

A media timeout was issued when the Cougars were down two points at 15-13 and Pepperdine followed by earning the next two points off another ace and BYU attack error, forcing BYU to burn its first timeout when down 17-13.

Following a BYU timeout when down five at 21-16, the Cougars went on a 3-0 run, including Browne’s 10th kill of the evening, causing a Pepperdine timeout. The Cougars had to burn another timeout when trailing by five at 21-16. BYU would rally to earn the next four points, but Pepperdine answered with a 3-0 run, winning the set 25-21 and leading the match 2-1.

Set Four

BYU opened the fourth set with a 9-3 lead, featuring two Benson kills, three Ramanis kills, and a career-defining block by Julien to give the senior 10 total blocks, a new career high. After Pepperdine called a timeout when trailing by six, the Waves scored the next two points with a pair of kills from Ketrzynsk.

The Waves crawled their way back to tie the set at 13 after two separate 3-0 runs, and were able to do so again at points 14 and 15, but the Cougars would score the next three points to keep its lead. A Pepperdine timeout at 18-15 was not enough to halt BYU’s dominant offense as the Cougars led the entire set and would win 25-19 off a Pepperdine attack error, forcing a fifth set.

Set Five

Benson’s 23rd kill of the night gave BYU an early 3-1 lead. Back-to-back kills by Benson then gave BYU a 5-2 lead. Stanley gave BYU its third ace of the night to take an 8-5 advantage. 

After switching sides, BYU earned the next point off a kill by Ramanis, forcing a Pepperdine timeout. The Cougars dominated through the rest of the set, ending the night on a 5-0 run courtesy of three more kills by Ramanis to win 15-7, securing a 3-2 victory.

Up Next

Next week the Cougars will return to Provo to host CUI for a pair of matches on March 29 and 30, beginning with Friday's game at 7 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse. Following Saturday's match, BYU will honor its three seniors: Kupono Browne, Gavin Julien and Jon Stanley. Both games will be streaming on BYUtv and