Three Cougars earn double-digit kills in 3-1 win over No. 13 USC

The No. 6 BYU men’s volleyball team defeated No. 13 USC 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-13) on Friday evening in the Galen Center, with three Cougars earning double-digit kills.

24mVLB vs Concordia 3-29 059cropped web photo

LOS ANGELES — The No. 6 BYU men’s volleyball team defeated No. 13 USC 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-13) on Friday evening in the Galen Center, with three Cougars earning double-digit kills.

Senior Kupono Browne had a match-high 17 kills on a .520 hitting percentage, including a match-high six blocks. Juniors Luke Benson and Miks Ramanis each finished with 12 kills as well to help lead the Cougars to victory. Ramanis and middle blocker Gavin Julien each finished with four total blocks while libero Jackson Fife tied his career-high with 12 digs to aid BYU's defense.

BYU hit .374 as a team and held the Trojans to a .165 team clip, USC's second-lowest hitting percentage of the season. The Cougars finsished with 52 kills, setting a new season-high for the team in four sets. 

With the win over the Trojans, BYU is guaranteed no worse than the three seed in the MPSF Tournament which will take place from April 17-20 at USC.

Set One

Kills from Teon Taylor, Benson and Ramanis gave BYU an early 3-1 lead. USC then fought its way back to gain its first lead of the night at 6-5 after a BYU attack error. Once USC held a 7-5 lead after going on a 3-0 run, the Cougars would struggle to garner another lead. The Trojans got ahead by as many as four points at 17-13 after another 3-0 run, including two BYU attack errors.

BYU went on a 3-0 run of its own later in the set to cut its deficit down by one, trailing 17-16 and forcing a USC timeout. The Cougars would trail by one point again at 21-20, with Benson recording his fifth kill of the match. USC garnered a three-point lead at 23-20 after back-to-back kills, causing a BYU timeout. The Trojans would go on to win the first set 25-22 after a kill by Kyle Paulson, his third of the night.

USC outhit the Cougars in set one, with a team hitting percentage of .375 compared to BYU’s .208. The Trojans also accumulated six blocks, holding BYU to three.

Set Two

The second set opened at an even pace as it saw nine ties until the Cougars went on a 4-0 run to gain a three-point lead at 12-9, featuring two kills by Benson, forcing a USC timeout. Two more kills from Browne gave BYU a 16-14 advantage, taking his kill count to five.

After back-to-back hitting errors from USC, the Trojans called a timeout when falling behind two at 20-18. The Cougars immediately followed the timeout with a block from Teon Taylor, and would later call their own timeout at 21-20 when leading by one. A 3-0 run from the Cougars gave them a set point at 24-20, and USC would survive through one more point until a kill by Browne closed the set at 25-21, evening the match at 1-1.

Set Three

BYU established a commanding 7-3 lead in the third frame, with four of its points coming from USC attack errors, initiating USC’s first timeout of the third set. Ethan Gant entered the match for BYU in place of Taylor when up four at 11-7. Ramanis then earned BYU’s first ace of the evening at 14-8, BYU’s largest lead of the night so far.

BYU coasted and led by six points at 21-15 after Ramanis’s sixth kill of the night. Gant would close the third set for BYU at 25-19, earning his first kill of the night. Browne led BYU’s offense in the third frame, adding six kills to his statline. 

Set Four

Kills from Gant, Benson and Browne gave BYU a quick 6-2 advantage, leading to a USC timeout. Browne earned his first ace of the night to give BYU a 9-3 lead. Later, a solo block by Ramanis then gave BYU a 11-4 lead, his first solo block since Jan. 26.

Another 3-0 run by the Cougars forced USC’s final timeout of the set, with BYU leading 15-6. BYU would reach a match point at 24-14 with a kill by Ramanis, and another kill from Ramanis would finish it off at 25-13 for the Cougars to win 3-1.

Up Next

The Cougars will face USC tomorrow evening for their final game of the 2024 regular season, with the match streaming live on the Pac-12 Network at 7 p.m. PDT.

BYU at USC highlights 4/5/24